Mobile Commerce

Why Consumers Search For Tech Online, But Buy In-Store

Another case for omnichannel is in the books.

New research from the Consumer Electronic Association show that a majority of U.S. consumers research tech accessories online, but still tend to buy them in store. The research shows that 62 percent of consumers (and more than 75 percent of millennials) go online with a computer or mobile device to research products.

But for buying, they still feel more comfortable in a physical store — though those figures are shifting, too. For now, the study shows that only about 30 percent of consumers complete those tech purchases online using a computer, and even less buy on mobile devices (7 percent).

“Consumers want to ask questions and get demonstrations during the purchasing process,” said Steve Koenig, senior director of market research at CEA. “Online and physical retailers, along with manufacturers, need to look for innovative ways to accomodate this dynamic. As more and more consumers use their mobile devices to find and purchase accessories, features like live chats, short video demos or online tutorials can help retailers increase the likelihood of winning the sale.”

The survey figures also show that for impulse purchases, consumers are most swayed by store displays (31 percent), the second driver is recommendations via friends or family (29 percent) and 10 percent say they are driven by a helpful salesperson when buying in-store tech accessories.

While tech accessories may seem like a smaller market, the growth figures for the industry — driven by smartphone popularity — are moving at a steady rate. The current forecast for 2015 is for the accessory category, excluding headphones, to hit roughly $9.6 billion (a 4 percent growth from 2014).

CEA’s research shows that the top reasons consumers pick online channels to shop are: price, convenience and ease of browsing. Despite those draws, just 7 percent of those surveyed in the research said they use the “click to purchase” option on a mobile device. But, at least in this survey, for those consumers who do use a mobile device to purchase a tech accessory, they are turning to eCommerce sites over apps (57 percent vs. 51 percent).

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