Consumers ‘reluctant to buy big ticket items online’

Online retail sales may be growing in the UK, but almost two thirds of consumers are unwilling to make expensive purchases online and prefer to spend larger amounts in-store, according to new research.

The survey of 1,000 consumers found that 62 per cent of shoppers would rather buy big ticket items in a bricks and mortar outlet, while 82 per cent believed in-store purchasing gave them more security when shopping for expensive items, mainly because they could see exactly what a product looked like before committing to the purchase.

When deciding on a purchase, 47 per cent of those canvassed said they would prefer to research products online to help them make a decision, and then opt to go in-store to buy the item so they had the option of asking for help from customer service assistants. Some 79 per cent of respondents confirmed that they had done this for an expensive purchase. Over a third (39 per cent) of consumers also said they would spend a maximum of £1,000 online, but would feel safer handing over larger amounts in person.

Sam Rutley, managing director at PushON, which conducted the study, noted: “Consumers seem to feel very comfortable researching expensive products online, because they can compare a lot of options in a small amount of time without having to travel to lots of different shops. But the issue lies with when they come to make the final purchase, as many don’t currently feel confident doing this over the internet, mainly because they can’t see what the product looks like in real life.

“With customers reluctant to spend large amounts online, this limits the types of sales that retailers can make through their websites,” he added. “Of course, this will have a greater effect on those retailers that sell higher value purchases, such as cars, kitchens or furniture, and could drastically lower their online sales. Retailers need to be addressing this issue by building up the same level of trust and reliability online that customers feel they receive when shopping in-store.”

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