Shopper Trends: Impact on the Online “Tipping Point” by Category

Retail categories are accelerating toward an online “tipping point” at differing speeds. The differences reflect trends among shoppers—such as by age, pre-purchase behavior, influence of media and online services—that affect each category in a unique way.

  • Online-to-Store Shopper Index by CategoryElectronics first to “tipping point”. In 2016, electronics passed the point where more consumers shop the category online vs. in stores. Categories accelerating next toward that tipping point are home décor, toys and sporting goods.
  • Young vs. old push different shifts. Older shoppers (45+ years) play a lead role in sporting goods and prescription drugs and an equal role in apparel. Younger shoppers are driving shifts in electronics, home décor, and shoes.
  • Mobile rises in pre-purchase impact. In-store research still drives apparel purchases and online research drives home-related categories. But mobile devices are spiking in importance to pre-purchase research, particularly among the younger set.
  • Different services key for different folks. “Live” customer service could be a key to winning older shoppers. Younger shoppers favor same-day delivery. Low price and free shipping are top priorities for all online shoppers.
  • Digital cracks media influences list. Digital media—i.e., Internet and email advertising—influence shoppers in electronics and apparel more than grocery. Younger shoppers are swayed more by digital media than older shoppers.

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