Though Majority of Americans Have Made a Virtual Purchase, They Still See Virtue in the In-Person Shopping Experience

New York, N.Y. – July 15, 2014 – There aren’t that many items left that we can’t order online these days. From low cost knick-knacks to high end automobiles, it’s tough to imagine a category that hasn’t seen at least some online retail penetration in the past few years. And Americans have certainly taken the opportunities offered, with majorities saying they’ve purchased clothing (69%), digital content (59%), and accessories such as handbags and shoes (54%) online, while half (49%) have purchased personal electronics such as digital music players or tablets in this fashion.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,241 U.S. adults surveyed online between June 11 and 16, 2014.

Most of these purchases are taking place on traditional computer screens, though smartphones and tablets are making some clear inroads:

  • Among smartphone owners, two in ten have purchased digital content via such devices (20%) while nearly one in ten have used a smartphone to purchase clothing (9%), accessories (8%), and personal electronics (9%).
  • Over a third of tablet owners have used such a device to purchase digital content (36%), while roughly two in ten have used a tablet to purchase clothing (22%) and accessories (19%). Nearly two in ten have used a tablet to purchase personal electronics (16%), while roughly one in ten say the same of cosmetics and personal grooming products (12%) and household electronics (9%).

Predictably, younger generations are more likely to have made purchases online in most of the product categories tested; the exception to this is prescription medications, with four in ten Matures (40%) saying they have purchased these online vs. roughly a fourth of most Baby Boomers (27%) and Gen Xers (26%) and fewer than two in ten Millennials (18%).

Women are more likely to have purchased clothing (75% vs. 63%), accessories (60% vs. 47%) and cosmetics/grooming products (41% vs. 28%) online, while men are more likely to have purchased digital content (62% vs. 56%), personal electronics (55% vs. 43%) and household electronics (49% vs. 37%) online.

Favoring face-to-face

However, while online shopping is being utilized by many Americans, there is still a clear preference for shopping in-person across most of the product categories tested. Nearly eight in ten U.S. adults indicated an in-person preference for general food purchases such as groceries (78%), roughly two-thirds for over the counter medications (67%) and clothing (65%) and over half for prescription medications (58%), cosmetics/grooming products (57%), specialty food and beverages (57%), household electronics (55%) and accessories (52%). Even personal electronics, the category showing the strongest online shopping preference, shows a roughly 2:1 ratio of Americans expressing an in-person (43%) vs. online (22%) shopping preference.

Shipping issues

Shipping costs are clearly a hot-button online shopping issue. When U.S. adults were asked how each of a series of purchase terms would impact their likelihood to make a purchase online (as opposed to in person), strong majorities say free shipping (81%) and free postage for sending in returns/exchanges (70%) would make them more likely to make such purchases online.

A small majority (55%) say the same of the opportunity to make returns/exchanges at a brick and mortar store, though opportunity is a key word here. Roughly half (49%) say that returns only being free if they are brought in-person to a brick and mortar store that is not available locally would make them less likely to make a purchase online.

Shipping costs also emerge as a sore subject when discussing online shopping pet peeves. Of those Americans with at least one cyber bone to pick with online shopping, two-thirds (66%) identify shipping costs as among the foremost of such annoyances. In addition:

  • Nearly four in ten (38%) point to getting something that looks nothing like it did online.
  • Over one in ten say the same of getting put onto a retailer’s mailing list after making a purchase (16%), having to buy two sizes of an item because they’re not sure which will fit (15%) and the fact that it can take a long time for returns/exchanges to process (14%).

Millennials are more likely than their elders to point to having to buy two sizes due to not knowing what will fit (21% vs. 14% Gen Xers, 13% Baby Boomers and 9% Matures), while Matures are more likely than their younger counterparts to sweat the possibility of ending up on a retailer’s mailing list (10%, 14% and 17% vs. 27%, respectively).

Looking at gender gaps, women are more likely to point to shipping costs (71% vs. 60%), items looking nothing like they did online (41% vs. 34%) and having to double up on sizes purchased (19% vs. 11%), while men appear to be more likely to suffer from mailing list anxiety (23% vs. 9%).

The cost of can’t wait

While most Americans show resistance to paying for shipping, not all shipping is created equal and over two in ten (22%) say they would be willing to pay more for either overnight or same day delivery, with 15% specifically saying they’d pony up for overnight service and 14% for same-day.

á Among those who would pay extra for same day delivery, six in ten (60%) would pay $10 or more and the average up-charge they could live with is $13.90.

á Looking at overnight shipping, among those willing to pay for this at all 45% would pay $10 or more and willing shoppers would pay up to $11.00 on average.

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TABLE 1a

HAVE MADE AN ONLINE PURCHASE, BY PRODUCT CATEGORY

Summary Grid

Now thinking about shopping online, which, if any, of these devices have you ever used to make an online purchase within each of these categories?

Base: U.S. adults

Have purchased online (NET)

Smartphone

Tablet

Laptop or desktop computer

Have never purchased this type of product online

%

%

%

%

%

Clothing

69

6

10

65

31

Digital content (e.g., movies, music, ebooks)

59

12

17

48

41

Accessories (e.g., handbags, shoes)

54

5

9

49

46

Personal electronics (e.g., digital music player, tablet)

49

5

7

43

51

Household electronics (e.g., television, stereo)

43

4

5

38

57

Cosmetics and personal grooming (e.g., makeup, shaving products, facial cleansers)

35

4

5

31

65

Prescription medications

26

3

4

21

74

Specialty food and beverages (e.g., hard to find seasonings, special ingredients)

25

3

3

23

75

Over the counter medications

18

2

2

15

82

General food purchases (e.g., groceries)

15

2

2

12

85

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.


TABLE 1b

HAVE MADE AN ONLINE PURCHASE, BY PRODUCT CATEGORY

Have Purchased Online (NET) – by Generation, Gender, Smartphone & Tablet Ownership

Now thinking about shopping online, which, if any, of these devices have you ever used to make an online purchase within each of these categories?

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Generation

Gender

Devices Owned

Millennials (18-36)

Gen Xers (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

Male

Female

Smartphone

Tablet

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Clothing

69

68

77

70

61

63

75

76

77

Digital content (e.g., movies, music, ebooks)

59

65

72

53

38

62

56

70

74

Accessories (e.g., handbags, shoes)

54

58

60

52

38

47

60

62

62

Personal electronics (e.g., digital music player, tablet)

49

57

57

44

26

55

43

58

64

Household electronics (e.g., television, stereo)

43

44

49

43

27

49

37

48

49

Cosmetics and personal grooming (e.g., makeup, shaving products, facial cleansers)

35

39

41

32

20

28

41

41

39

Prescription medications

26

18

26

27

40

27

24

26

28

Specialty food and beverages (e.g., hard to find seasonings, special ingredients)

25

25

32

21

27

27

24

29

29

Over the counter medications

18

18

19

17

20

18

19

21

20

General food purchases (e.g., groceries)

15

18

23

11

8

16

15

18

17


TABLE 1c

HAVE MADE AN ONLINE PURCHASE W/ A SMARTPHONE, BY PRODUCT CATEGORY

Using a Smartphone – by Generation, Gender, Smartphone & Tablet Ownership

Now thinking about shopping online, which, if any, of these devices have you ever used to make an online purchase within each of these categories?

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Generation

Gender

Devices Owned

Millennials (18-36)

Gen Xers (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

Male

Female

Smartphone

Tablet

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Digital content (e.g., movies, music, ebooks)

12

23

16

5

1

13

12

20

18

Clothing

6

11

7

2

5

7

9

10

Accessories (e.g., handbags, shoes)

5

13

3

1

5

5

8

8

Personal electronics (e.g., digital music player, tablet)

5

10

6

2

1

7

4

9

9

Household electronics (e.g., television, stereo)

4

8

4

1

4

4

6

6

Cosmetics and personal grooming (e.g., makeup, shaving products, facial cleansers)

4

11

2

1

3

5

7

7

Prescription medications

3

5

4

2

4

3

5

5

Specialty food and beverages (e.g., hard to find seasonings, special ingredients)

3

6

3

3

2

4

3

Over the counter medications

2

4

1

1

2

2

3

2

General food purchases (e.g., groceries)

2

5

2

1

3

2

3

2

Note 1: indicates a selection rate of <0.5% for this response

Note 2: — indicates no selections for this response


TABLE 1d

HAVE MADE AN ONLINE PURCHASE W/ A TABLET, BY PRODUCT CATEGORY

Using a Tablet – by Generation, Gender, Smartphone & Tablet Ownership

Now thinking about shopping online, which, if any, of these devices have you ever used to make an online purchase within each of these categories?

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Generation

Gender

Devices Owned

Millennials (18-36)

Gen Xers (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

Male

Female

Smartphone

Tablet

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Digital content (e.g., movies, music, ebooks)

17

26

18

11

7

16

17

22

36

Clothing

10

18

8

5

2

9

10

13

22

Accessories (e.g., handbags, shoes)

9

16

6

5

2

8

9

12

19

Personal electronics (e.g., digital music player, tablet)

7

17

5

3

1

10

6

11

16

Household electronics (e.g., television, stereo)

5

10

5

2

1

7

3

7

9

Cosmetics and personal grooming (e.g., makeup, shaving products, facial cleansers)

4

10

4

3

1

5

5

8

12

Prescription medications

4

7

3

2

1

4

3

5

6

Specialty food and beverages (e.g., hard to find seasonings, special ingredients)

3

6

4

1

1

3

3

5

6

Over the counter medications

2

4

3

1

2

2

4

5

General food purchases (e.g., groceries)

2

4

3

1

2

2

3

5

Note 1: indicates a selection rate of <0.5% for this response

Note 2: — indicates no selections for this response


TABLE 2a

IMPACT OF TERMS ON LIKELIHOOD TO MAKE A PURCHASE ONLINE INSTEAD OF IN PERSON

Summary Grid

How would each of the following impact your likelihood to make a purchase online, as opposed to in person?

Base: U.S. adults

MORE LIKELY (NET)

Much more likely to make my purchase online

Somewhat more likely to make my purchase online

Neither more nor less likely

LESS LIKELY (NET)

Somewhat less likely to make my purchase online

Much less likely to make my purchase online

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Free shipping

81

60

22

13

6

2

3

Free postage for sending in returns/exchanges

70

42

28

24

6

2

3

Opportunity to make returns/exchanges at a brick and mortar store

55

27

28

35

10

3

7

Returns only free if brought in-person to a brick and mortar store which is not available to you locally

16

7

10

35

49

15

34

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.

TABLE 2b

IMPACT OF TERMS ON LIKELIHOOD TO MAKE A PURCHASE ONLINE INSTEAD OF IN PERSON

More Likely (NET) – by Generation & Gender

How would each of the following impact your likelihood to make a purchase online, as opposed to in person?

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Generation

Gender

Millennials (18-36)

Gen Xers (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Free shipping

81

79

81

83

81

79

83

Free postage for sending in returns/exchanges

70

67

71

73

72

65

75

Opportunity to make returns/exchanges at a brick and mortar store

55

52

59

56

50

50

59

Returns only free if brought in-person to a brick and mortar store which is not available to you locally

16

19

18

14

13

17

16


TABLE 3

BIGGEST ONLINE SHOPPING PET PEEVES

By Generation & Gender

Which of these are among your biggest online shopping pet peeves?

Base: Have at least one pet peeve

Total

Generation

Gender

Millennials (18-36)

Gen Xers (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Shipping costs.

66

60

68

69

66

60

71

Getting something that looks nothing like it did online.

38

42

37

38

28

34

41

Getting put onto a retailer’s mailing list after making a purchase.

16

10

14

17

27

23

9

Having to buy two sizes of an item because I’m not sure which will fit me.

15

21

14

13

9

11

19

It can take a long time for a return/exchange to process.

14

16

18

10

12

14

14

Takes business away from local retailers.

10

7

11

11

15

10

10

I miss the instant gratification of buying something in person.

10

9

9

11

10

11

9

Having a transaction interrupted when losing a signal.

10

13

10

7

10

11

8

Other

4

5

3

4

5

5

4

Note: Multiple responses allowed


TABLE 4a

ONLINE VS. IN-PERSON SHOPPING PREFERENCES, BY PRODUCT CATEGORY

Summary Grid

And thinking about shopping online vs. in-person at a brick and mortar store, how would you describe your preference between the two for each of the following types of items?

Base: U.S. adults

PREFER TO PURCHASE IN-PERSON (NET)

Greatly prefer to purchase this type of product in-person

Somewhat prefer to purchase this type of product in-person

PREFER TO PURCHASE ONLINE (NET)

Somewhat prefer to purchase this type of product online

Greatly prefer to purchase this type of product online

No preference

Don’t purchase this type of product

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

General food purchases (e.g., groceries)

78

69

9

5

3

2

11

6

Over the counter medications

67

55

13

7

3

3

18

8

Clothing

65

44

21

13

7

7

19

2

Prescription medications

58

49

9

13

4

8

17

12

Cosmetics and personal grooming (e.g., makeup, shaving products, facial cleansers)

57

43

15

12

6

6

21

10

Specialty food and beverages (e.g., hard to find seasonings, special ingredients)

57

45

12

10

6

4

18

15

Household electronics (e.g., television, stereo)

55

39

16

16

9

7

24

5

Accessories (e.g., handbags, shoes)

52

34

19

15

8

6

24

9

Intimate items (e.g., lingerie, erotica)

44

35

9

15

8

7

18

23

Personal electronics (e.g., digital music player, tablet)

43

29

14

22

13

9

29

6

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.


TABLE 4b

IN-PERSON PREFERENCES, BY PRODUCT CATEGORY

Prefer to purchase this type of product in-person (NET) – by Generation & Gender

And thinking about shopping online vs. in-person at a brick and mortar store, how would you describe your preference between the two for each of the following types of items?

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Generation

Gender

Millennials (18-36)

Gen Xers (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

General food purchases (e.g., groceries)

78

68

77

85

87

77

79

Over the counter medications

67

61

62

73

79

64

70

Clothing

65

59

62

68

79

66

65

Prescription medications

58

56

57

60

57

54

61

Cosmetics and personal grooming (e.g., makeup, shaving products, facial cleansers)

57

50

49

64

72

54

60

Specialty food and beverages (e.g., hard to find seasonings, special ingredients)

57

55

55

58

60

57

56

Household electronics (e.g., television, stereo)

55

44

51

60

74

52

57

Accessories (e.g., handbags, shoes)

52

45

49

55

69

48

57

Intimate items (e.g., lingerie, erotica)

44

41

41

46

56

34

54

Personal electronics (e.g., digital music player, tablet)

43

34

39

46

61

40

45


TABLE 4c

ONLINE PREFERENCES, BY PRODUCT CATEGORY

Prefer to purchase this type of product online (NET) – by Generation & Gender

And thinking about shopping online vs. in-person at a brick and mortar store, how would you describe your preference between the two for each of the following types of items?

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Generation

Gender

Millennials (18-36)

Gen Xers (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Personal electronics (e.g., digital music player, tablet)

22

27

23

20

13

24

20

Household electronics (e.g., television, stereo)

16

20

17

16

8

18

14

Intimate items (e.g., lingerie, erotica)

15

18

17

13

10

15

14

Accessories (e.g., handbags, shoes)

15

18

16

14

5

14

15

Clothing

13

16

14

13

9

12

14

Prescription medications

13

7

9

16

26

14

12

Cosmetics and personal grooming (e.g., makeup, shaving products, facial cleansers)

12

16

14

9

3

10

13

Specialty food and beverages (e.g., hard to find seasonings, special ingredients)

10

9

11

11

9

8

12

Over the counter medications

7

8

9

5

4

7

6

General food purchases (e.g., groceries)

5

8

6

3

2

5

6

TABLE 5

WOULD PAY MORE FOR SAME DAY/OVERNIGHT DELIVERY

By Generation, Gender & Metro Status

Would you be willing to pay more to get same day or overnight delivery when you shop online? Please select all that apply.

Base: U.S. Adults

Total

Generation

Gender

Metro Status

Millennials (18-36)

Gen Xers (37-48)

Baby Boomers (49-67)

Matures (68+)

Male

Female

Urban

Suburban

Rural

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Either (NET)

22

37

20

15

6

26

18

28

18

23

Overnight delivery

15

24

12

11

5

17

13

18

13

14

Same day delivery

14

25

13

9

1

17

11

20

11

13

Neither of these

70

55

75

75

82

65

73

62

76

64

I don’t shop online

9

9

5

9

12

9

8

10

6

13

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.


TABLE 6

ADDITIONAL AMOUNT WOULD PAY FOR SAME DAY DELIVERY

How much more would you be willing to pay to get same day delivery when you shop online?

Base: U.S. Adults who would pay more for same day delivery

Total

%

$5 or more (NET)

88

$10 or more (NET)

60

$20 or more (NET)

23

Mean

$13.90

TABLE 7

ADDITIONAL AMOUNT WOULD PAY FOR OVERNIGHT DELIVERY

How much more would you be willing to pay to get overnight delivery when you shop online?

Base: U.S. Adults who would pay more for overnight delivery

Total

%

$5 or more (NET)

87

$10 or more (NET)

45

$20 or more (NET)

12

Mean

$11.00

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between June 11 and 16, 2014 among 2,241 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

 

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

 

The Harris Poll¨ #67, July 15, 2014

By Larry Shannon-Missal, Manager, Harris Poll Content

About Nielsen & The Harris Poll

On February 3, 2014, Nielsen acquired Harris Interactive and The Harris Poll. Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.