Why We Buy Online: Price, Convenience, Selection

An international survey by market research company GfK has confirmed the commonly-held belief that the major reason people buy online rather than in-store is to save on price. But it’s not the only reason.


Where 55% thought they could get a better deal online, only 22% thought they would do better in store.

However, the other reasons given by the 23,000 shoppers in APAC, LATAM, Europe, North America and the Middle East show that the choice between online and in-store is not always clear-cut. In fact, four of the top five reasons for deciding to buy online were also given as the top five most important factors that led people to buy in-store.

For instance:

  • 28% of respondents said that the last time they decided whether to purchase online or in a store they chose online because it was easier; but 33% said they chose to shop at a store for the same reason.
  • Where 55% thought they could get a better deal online, 22% thought they would do better in store.
  • Some 22% who chose to shop in-store cited being able to get better information as a reason; but 21% who chose online gave the same reason for their choice.

GfK online

GfK instore

Why should you care?

What would get more people buying online? The top reason consumers had for buying in store was because they could see and feel products before buying; the third, because returns are “more hassle-free”.

You’ll win more online buyers with a liberal returns policy. It should be easy to find on your website, while those who do best online have no charge for returns.

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About the Author Jeremy Templer

Jeremy is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire. Jeremy has been working in search since 1996, when he joined the Australian search engine, LookSmart. After relocating to San Francisco, he was instrumental in the development of the company’s paid search ad platform. At analytics company Coremetrics (now owned by IBM) he established an in-house search agency managing campaigns for Coremetrics clients such as Macy’s, Bass Pro and Lands End. At Acxiom he managed members of the pioneering SEO firm Marketleap and worked with clients such as Capital One, American General Finance and Kaiser Health. Joining SureFire in 2009, he is the head of Paid Search Advertising and oversees the delivery of AdWords and other PPC campaigns. He also helps clients make sense of their website data.