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Clothing, groceries and vehicles most difficult to buy online: study

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A significant minority of UK shoppers find it harder to buy clothing, groceries, vehicles and furniture online – and they are missing the advice that in-store sales staff can offer, a new study has suggested.

The study, by Walnut Unlimited behalf of Ve Global, asked 2,014 GB adults what type of goods they found harder to buy online and found that the largest group named clothing (27%), followed by groceries (21%), vehicles (20%) and home and garden furniture(16%). 

Asked why these items were harder to buy, 25% said they’d had difficulty browsing online, 21% said product specifications were confusing, and the same proportion said the problem was not being asked to ask a sales assistant for advice. Almost two thirds (61%) missed being able to touch or test products, while understanding how big products were was an issue for 45%. 

They most missed sales’ support when buying more expensive goods such as white goods and consumer electronics online (both 37%), followed by vehicles (29%) and beauty products (26%). Almost a third (30%) said they had started to buy clothes, shoes and accessories online in the previous year – but 47% of those aged 45 to 54% and 46% of those aged 66 to 74 said these items were harder to buy. Asked why, 71% named the lack of ability to try things on, and 67% touching and feeling products. 

“With the return of in-store shopping, and the personal service it brings, consumers looking for products that they find difficult to buy online will be the first to ditch the laptop for the high street,” said Jack Wearne, chief executive of digital revenue optimisation company Ve Global. “So having a website alone isn’t enough for online retailers to compete for considered purchases. Adaptable brands are experimenting with technology to make online shopping even more convenient. Brands that can reimagine the in-store sales assistant online will enable customers to get the guidance they need to discover and choose products, and importantly get the same premium experience they’re used to getting in-store.”

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