Survey results for online vs in-store shopping


Last week, we reached out in order to understand how modern shoppers are making their purchases.

With the growing fear that e-commerce is threatening brick-and-mortar businesses, Veem took to Twitter to survey shopping preferences, whether online or in-store.

We asked, “do you shop online or in-store?” And with close to 900 responses, the results are in.

While a few respondents commented that they use both methods equally, 60% of voters claimed they shop in-store, while only 40% claimed to shop online.

While these stats are initially surprising due to the popularity and fear-mongering of online giants like Amazon and Wish, the majority of purchases consumers make are done in person. And most importantly, this is due to preference, rather than need.

Why e-commerce falls behind

Whether as a hobby or an outing, customers prefer shopping in person. In-store shopping, of course, comes with the social aspect, and the kinesthetic assurance of knowing what one is buying.

Many studies focus on online vs in-store shopping for select companies, such as how more Walmart or Target shoppers prefer brick-and-mortar. These companies are predominantly and originally brick-and-mortar, so their online presence isn’t as engrained. However, throw Amazon into the mix and you can see a more competitive comparison.

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So why then is the leader of e-commerce so focused on getting physical?

Yes, Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezo, recognizes the limitations of e-commerce and has implemented brick-and-mortar solutions, such as Amazon Go, Presented by Amazon, and Amazon 4-Star in order to push the competition.

Aside from “why not?” Bezo claims his reasons for opening physical stores are because Amazon only makes up “a low single-digit percentage of the retail market.” Keep in mind, that for a single online business against the entirety of retail business worldwide, that percentage is colossal.

In-store shopping may always beat out etail for certain reasons. Retail itself may have to change certain limitations to shopping efficiency and convenience, as Amazon Go has tackled (although, not without criticism over job elimination) by removing checkouts to avoid lines and wait times.

Assurance over convenience

Despite the convenience of accessing virtually any desired product online (at any hour) and having it delivered to their doorsteps, shoppers choose to buy in-store.

Retail shoppers want to be sure of what they’re purchasing, by touching, trying, and sizing products.

Is it the fear of poor quality products or inaccurate item descriptions that keep shoppers offline? Or a combination of these with the stressful process involved with returning an order and obtaining a refund? We’ve all seen Amazon or Wish expectation-versus-reality fails that occur due to poorly researched purchases. Pro tip: remember to always check the specs on online orders.

delivery fees

We want it now

Whether out of excitement or necessity, nothing beats getting it yourself. In-store shopping also cuts time, despite most brick-and-mortars not being open for 24 hours. But of course, shoppers save on shipping and handling fees when shopping in-person.

Online shipping rates are determined by speed and weight/size of the items, but Amazon gives shoppers some options. Despite these, buyers would rather show up to a physical store and buy on demand.

A subscription to faster deliveries still isn’t worth the wait. It’s always possible to buy time by selecting one- or two-day shipping, but is the cost worth it if a product is available at a nearby brick-and-mortar store? Plus, these times rely on stock and could be still delayed. Online purchases may be thrown simply due to necessity or desperation.

User experience

According to The Balance SMB, 67% of Millennials prefer online shopping. And 56% of Generation X agree. However, Gen Z shoppers prefer to make purchases in person. Consider, Gen Y and Z were raised on technology and can generally navigate any e-commerce store. This same comfort and use of ease don’t seem natural for older generations.

Consumers see through ploys. While filling up an online cart is fun, the homestretch of cashing out is less enjoyable. When those hidden fees and taxes finally show their ugly faces, nearly 70% of shoppers abandon their carts.

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Local support

Small businesses often have narrow focuses with niche items that can’t be found online. And nothing beats thrifting. It’s the thrill of the hunt. Additionally, shoppers are more likely to order special items online, while doing their regular shopping for necessities and easily locatable items in person.

The future of shopping

All of the futuristic depictions of technology and society weren’t enough to prepare the world for the development of e-commerce. What we thought shopping would turn into by 2020 has become a reality, perhaps faster than anyone really expected. For that reason, shoppers may not be ready for these changes. The convenience of online shopping isn’t yet enough to drown out in-store retail.

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* This blog provides general information and discussion about global business payments and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.