Shoppers Aren’t Saving Time or Money When They Buy Online, Survey Finds

Speed and savings are two of the most cited arguments for online shopping, but a new survey conducted by management consulting firm Oliver Wyman and published by the Harvard Business Review suggests consumers may not be benefiting as much as they think.

The researchers surveyed 1,500 American apparel and accessories consumers and found that for one thing, when they bought online, their baskets were 25 percent larger on average than they were in stores. For omnichannel shoppers who visited a brick-and-mortar location before buying online, that basket size increased even further, resulting in a purchase that was 64 percent larger than if they’d bought in-store.

The analysts said free-shipping minimums, wider selection and the ease of impulse buying on e-commerce sites all contribute to the more significant spend.

But at least the convenience of one- or two-click shopping saves enough time to make up for those lost dollars, right? Well, not exactly.

Consumers tend to spend more time comparison shopping for purchases that they ultimately make online. In fact, 57 percent of the time, the site the shopper buys from isn’t their first stop: Prior to purchasing, they’ll have visited another website (29 percent), checked out a physical store (15 percent) or both (13 percent). Of course, it’s a lot easier to check out a competitor’s prices when it’s as simple as opening another tab rather than walking or driving to a separate store.

And e-commerce still has a ways to go to catch up with physical retail: Online shopping accounts for about a tenth of America’s shopping dollars, though that number is steadily rising.

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