40% of consumers use price comparison sites to buy household goods

For the past few weeks I’ve been shopping for a new fridge (I’m moving house).

I was very much hoping for the convenience of reading over some online reviews and then making a purchase online. Instead, I found myself taking a trip to my nearest electrical retailer, with iPhone in hand, reading over product reviews on my phone while testing the products for real.

My online/offline shopping experience led me to think about how many other people approach shopping like this, and whether this kind of ‘dual experience’ shopping gives savvy high street retailers an advantage over others.

Experian and ResearchNow have just released a whitepaper based on survey of 2,000 UK Consumers.

In the survey, 10% of respondents reported that they use their mobile in-store to check the price of goods elsewhere before purchasing – a trend which Experian have dubbed “the Handset Haggler”.

Some other key trends from their whitepaper include:

  • 5% of respondents have actively sought feedback on a purchase in store from Twitter or Facebook
  • 4% of all those surveyed will make a purchase based on an offer sent to them based on location eg Facebook Places

This might sound like a very small proportion of consumers, but if you consider the deals that Facebook Places launched in the UK only three months ago, it’s easy to see that these numbers are likely to grow.

However, the killer statistic for me is that 40% of respondents said they make use of price comparison sites before purchasing electrical or white goods. When you consider this in the context of where consumers make their purchases, the potential for integrating offline and online shopping becomes apparent.

In 2008, 51% of online purchases came from purely online retailers. In 2011, this number has declined to 41%, with retailers who benefit from a bricks-and-mortar presence taking 59% of online purchases.

With high street retailers still struggling as the economy recovers it is reassuring to see that the physical shopping experience doesn’t have to be competitive with ordering online. The two can happily complement each other to better educate consumers , and improve the quality of their experience.