Out of the 1.8 billion people worldwide who purchase goods online, 26 percent shop online at least once per week, according to Episerver data.
With online shopping becoming more widespread, easier, and faster by the day, we wanted to find out how Americans feel about spending their money online.
We conducted a survey of over 3,000 people to determine their reasons for shopping online versus in-store, and to find out what fuels online shopping addictions in the United States.
- Convenience is the leading reason for shopping online compared to shopping in-store.
- Clothing and accessories are the most popular purchase category for online shoppers.
- Americans are more worried about overspending in a store than overspending online.
Convenience Fuels Online Shopping Addictions
We asked Americans to give us their top reason for choosing online shopping over in-store shopping and the results were definitive: Convenience is the top attraction of online retail sites.
Surprisingly, only 15 percent of consumers were interested in online shopping for the extra deals and promotional codes. This suggests that as long as a purchase is equal in cost and availability, the overall ease of online shopping seems to be more valuable than saving money.
Major data company Nielsen published an article on the subject in 2018 and concluded that there are several factors that drive shoppers to seek out convenience, including:
- Lifestyle changes. Consumer lifestyles are becoming increasingly busy, connected, and stressful. This leads shoppers to search for more convenient experiences.
- New challenges. With more information than ever at consumers’ fingertips, information overload is more prevalent.
- New technology. Handheld technology, including smartphones and tablets, allows consumers to shop from anywhere, anytime.
As a retail concept, convenience for today’s consumers requires a great deal; brands must offer fast (and free) shipping, delivery services for food and other products, immediately consumable media, and customer service available via online chat and email.
Broken down by demographics, women tend to value convenience more than their male counterparts. In fact, women are 28% more likely to choose convenience as their top reason for shopping online versus in a store.
Americans are Addicted to Shopping for Clothes Online
With more online retailers offering free returns, digital customer service, and reward programs, it’s no wonder clothing is at the top of this list. Many believe online shopping is easier when it comes to buying clothing –– no fitting room woes, no long lines, and no searching endlessly through unorganized clothing racks.
E-commerce sales for clothing and accessories are increasing over time and are now the largest product category for online sales.
However, there seems to be intense debate over whether online retailers are the future of clothes shopping. Experts like Zia Daniell Wigder, chief global content officer at Shoptalk, believe brick-and-mortar stores will never die. After all, there’s something to be said for being able to touch and try on clothing before committing to a purchase.
Whether brick-and-mortar clothing stores are on their way out or not, it’s clear that Americans love shopping for clothes online more than any other product.
Shoppers Are Scared of Overspending in Stores
According to our respondents, the temptation to spend too much money is higher for in-store shopping than online shopping. In fact, 37 percent of respondents said they’re more likely to overspend in a store, while only 27 percent of respondents said the same of online shopping.
This indicates that when it comes to making purchases, Americans are savvy online shoppers.
The benefits of online shopping may be contributing to these results. Easy product comparison, wide selections, and the availability of online deals and promo codes makes it easy to track and save money online. Plus, most online shopping carts keep track of your total as you shop. You can also calculate discounts easily yourself.
While most respondents in our survey reported that the risk of overspending was greater when shopping in-store, younger consumers seem to think differently. Surprisingly, 33 percent of adults ages 18–24 say they’re more likely to overspend online, while 30 percent of the same age group said they’re more likely to overspend in a store.
This demographic difference could result from the many strategies retailers use to make the online shopping experience more convenient, including speedy shipping, auto-insert payment information, discounts based on amount spent, loyalty programs, and emails.
Young shoppers can avoid overspending online by searching for digital coupons and promotions for every purchase, limiting temptation by unsubscribing from email lists, and resisting the urge to spend more money just to get small perks like free shipping.
The Bottom Line
It turns out that Americans are savvy online shoppers, according to the results of our survey. The main reason respondents cite for choosing to shop online is convenience, showing that Americans value efficient shopping more than anything else.
When it comes to money management online, Americans think it’s easier to overspend in a store (compared to online). This indicates that most people know how to get the most bang for their buck online.
Shopping online can be a great way to save money, especially when using discount codes and capitalizing on online-only sales. Wherever you like to shop, be sure to look for coupons before checking out –– your wallet will thank you!
This study consisted of three survey questions conducted using Google Surveys. The sample consisted of no less than 1,000 completed responses. Post-stratification weighting has been applied to ensure an accurate and reliable representation of the total population. The survey ran during January 2020.