44% of US shoppers combine online and in-person shopping

Shopping and completing a transaction through more than one retail channel is gaining popularity among consumers. Looking at 15 product and service categories, 44 percent of U.S. shoppers combined online and in-person shopping activities, up 7 percent from 2013. And while using a smartphone to research a product is a growing habit, it seems most consumers, even those ages 18 to 24, still purchase in a physical store.

According to GfK's 2014 FutureBuy, a global study of shopping habits, consumer incidents of showrooming—seeing a product in store then buying it on a smartphone—dropped from 37 percent to 28 percent in the United States since last year. At the same time, webrooming—buying a product in-store after researching it online with a phone—was reported by 41 percent of respondents.

Webrooming topped showrooming by 12 to 14 percent among Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. Even Generation Z, or millennials, preferred webrooming by about 5 percent. Clearly the trend to shop on mobile is growing most rapidly for millennials, but has still not overtaken the physical store.

And where are most millennials conducting their wireless shopping? Overall, two-thirds of respondents in a recent Instart Logic survey preferred to conduct mobile shopping at home. In all demographics, 71 percent of women shop on mobile when at home or at work, while 41 percent of men preferred shopping while on the go—in transit, in a store or waiting in line.

Combining retail channels used to be popular only among big ticket purchases but is now common for consumers buying beauty and personal care products, 39 percent; lawn and garden, 29 percent; and food and beverage, 22 percent. The largest increases in omnichannel shopping came in home improvement, conducted by 57 percent of respondents, which is up 19 percentage points from last year.

What's so appealing about the physical store? Fifty-eight percent wanted to see and feel before buying a product; 53 percent wanted to get products sooner; and 35 percent wanted hassle free returns. However, online was the preferred purchase platform when consumers wanted to save money, 61 percent; an easier experience, 53 percent; and a better selection, 46 percent.

Shopping through a computer dropped from 78 to 63 percent in the United States since 2013. In the same time period, use of smartphones went from 8 to 15 percent and tablets went from 5 to 10 percent.

E-commerce sales in 30 retail categories will reach $294 billion in 2014 alone and $414 billion by 2018, according to Forrester Research's latest online retail forecast.

For more:
-See this GfK press release

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