Although the lines between online and offline shopping are blurring more and more every day, there are still key differences between the two when it comes to customer behaviors and shopping times.

What are the main differences between online and offline customer behaviors?

The same customer, shopping both online and offline, can display completely different behaviors in each case. The time of day when they shop is one of the biggest differences – and we will explore this in more detail further down – but there are other factors as well.   

Unlike offline shopping, where finding and traveling to a physical store is key, those who purchase online can be more easily inclined to ‘shop around’ – after all, the competition is often only a click away. For businesses, the challenge then becomes finding ways to keep their potential online customers’ attention.  

Online customers also generally expect a much quicker purchase journey, from finding the products and services they are looking for, all the way through to checkout. This means businesses should always try to make the process as simple and fast as possible – giving customers unnecessary friction could well lead them to leaving and making the purchase elsewhere.

A common area of frustration for online shoppers is the quality/lack of customer service and support they get on a website. In a traditional brick-and-mortar store, staff are always at hand to help shoppers with their queries, but having an online version of that is much harder – although not impossible. Having useful content, FAQ sections and multiple ways for customers to contact the business are some of the ways of providing them with as much clarity as possible when they shop online.   

Current consumer trends are also worth bearing in mind when understanding differences in online and offline shopping behaviors. For instance, recent statistics show that the share of online shoppers across all internet users in Europe is growing fast, with the highest proportions being found in the 16-24 and 25-54 age groups (68% and 69% respectively) – this would definitely carry implications for businesses looking to market to those demographics.  

A report by multinational management consultancy Accenture also revealed that 87% of people who watch TV now do so with a ‘second screen’, allowing them to browse on the internet while watching adverts, which is yet another demonstration of how the experience of shopping has changed – and is continuing to change – from the customer’s perspective.  

What are the main differences in online and offline shopping times?

Up until the advent of online shopping, the peak times when people generally chose to shop were rather straightforward: primarily Saturday afternoons, and perhaps in the late evenings just after working hours on weekdays, with most stores staying closed on Sundays.  

While this still mostly holds true for offline shopping today, the picture is very different when people buy online. According to a recent report by The Telegraph, 8pm on Sunday is actually the most popular time for online shopping in the UK, as people often browse websites when sitting in front of the television at that time (which correlates with the Accenture finding mentioned earlier). The report also suggests that shoppers are now using weekdays to view purchases in store before searching around for the best deals online over the weekend.

What does this means for businesses? Quite simply, that they should strongly consider customer shopping times when setting their marketing strategy, especially if it involves encouraging customers to make the online to offline switch using tools like store locators and local pages. Not only is it useful to know exactly which days and times to target when running promotions and campaigns, it goes a long way in helping businesses better understand their place among the competition and stay one step ahead.

How can BRIDGE help you?

BRIDGE is a specialist SaaS (Software as a Service) provider, offering a full range of online-to-offline solutions to businesses looking to increase footfall in their stores. Our products include Store Locator, Local Pages and Online Listings, all incorporating cutting-edge technology to drive shoppers to physical retail spaces. Learn more about how we can help you.

Interested in learning more about online to offline marketing strategies?
Download our Introduction to Online to Offline Commerce ebook. 

Download the Introduction to O2O Commerce Ebook


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