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Mobile bridging the gap between online and the high street: study

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Shoppers would rather buy on the high street than online – and mobile is making it easier for them to do just that, according to a new study.

The survey, commissioned by shopping inspiration app Udozi and carried out by YouGov, found that 41% of the 2,105 UK adults quizzed would rather buy from a department store, shopping mall or on their high street, while 29% would rather shop online.

Some 24% said that the virtual online shopping experience was one of the main reasons they didn’t shop online more often, and that they preferred to shop in store, the Udozi Consumer Shopping Trends report found. And 44% said that the cost of delivery put them off more frequent online spending.

Browsing is still key, and many shoppers are now using their mobile devices for that purpose. More than a third of shoppers (35%) with a tablet and 26% of smartphone users said they browse on it before buying in store. Almost a third (29%) of UK smartphone users said they would use their mobile devices for shopping more often if they could reserve on their phone to collect in a local store.

Alan Gabbay, founder of Udozi, said: “In today’s digital age, constantly connected consumers have come to expect access to their favourite brands and retailers when on the move. But even though a large chunk of online Brits now own Internet-enabled devices that they can make purchases from, mobile and online alone simply can’t compensate for the in-store shopping experience, as the majority of people still want to try before they buy and speak to experts in-store.”

Meanwhile 29% of smartphone users and 30% of tablet users said they were put off using their mobile devices because they did not like downloading shopping apps for every store, and would prefer a single app that could access everything.

“What’s key,” said Gabbay, “is that retailers learn how to marry all these channels together, especially as mobile is clearly influencing consumer shopping behaviour as people are searching for items they want on the go. We believe that mobile has the potential to connect the dots between the online and offline worlds – and ultimately drive consumers back to the high-street.”

The Udozi shopping inspiration app allows consumers to check stock online and reserve in-store from more than 160 retailers. It has initially launched in Greater London and plans to expand nationwide in 2013.

Our view: This story could be seen as a self-serving survey, but we think this story is also a salutary reminder that while online is growing fast, more than 90% of UK retail sales still take place in shops. It also highlights the fact that online remains key for browsing, and the potential of the mobile device, so often now seen as the glue or cement in the retail experience, in bridging the gap between the high street and ecommerce. And these are all important considerations for today's multichannel retailers.
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