UPS Study: Online Purchases Top 50% Among Avid Digital Consumers

Online purchases have for the first time pushed past the halfway mark among the most avid online shoppers, according to the fifth annual UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study: More than half (51%) of all these consumers’ purchases are now made online, up from 48% in 2015.

While the growth of e-Commerce has become an inescapable reality fed by shifting consumer preferences, it’s still true that the overwhelming bulk of monetary spending remains in brick-and-mortar stores. The U.S. Commerce Department revealed that only 7.8% of all retail spending took place online in Q1 2016. However, the proliferation of technologies and more accessible channels for both browsing and buying indicates that e-Commerce will only continue to make a bigger impact.

The study, which surveyed 5,330 shoppers who make two or more online purchases within a three-month period, revealed these shoppers’ growing gravitation to digital channels:


  • Only 20% of respondents say they still do all of their shopping and browsing within the store, declining from 22% in 2015;

  • Satisfaction in mobile experiences has increased to 73%, up eight points from 65% in 2015. This aligns closely with the rising usage of smartphones, which increased from 67% in 2014 to 77% in 2016;

  • 44% purchase products on a smartphone, a slight boost from the 41% who did so in 2015; and

  • 38% of purchases are cross-channel, meaning the shopper goes in the store and accesses at least one online channel while there.

Online shoppers report they are using their smartphones in-store for a full range of actions, including searching product reviews (29%), reading product details (28%), comparing prices (27%), and regularly accessing coupons for in-store redemption (27%).

“We know shoppers use their smartphones while in-store, so if retailers can tie together mobile messaging with valuable features in their apps, this can be a winning combination,” said Louis DeJianne, Director for Retail and Consumer Products at UPS.

Marketplaces are also gaining in appeal with these consumers, with 85% of shoppers purchasing on them within the past year and 35% now starting their searches on these sites. The top marketplaces for shoppers thus far in 2016 include:

  • Amazon (70%);

  • eBay (53%);

  • Etsy (17%); and

  • Newegg (12%).

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