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Online shopping gets people’s hearts racing more than social media – literally

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While online shopping comes as second nature to some, for others it can cause confusion and frustration – and palpitations.

To investigate how people really feel about online shopping and how stressful an experience it can be, Currys completed a study that compared peoples’ responses to online shopping with that during everyday activities. This involved surveying volunteers of various ages and tracking their heart rates while they completed a number of tasks including online shopping (unassisted), online shopping using the Currys ShopLive tool (video chat with an expert), exercising, browsing social media and completing brainteasers.

And the data is startling.  In the study, volunteers’ heart rates increased by an average of 3.2 beats per minute (BPM) while online shopping, compared with a decrease of 2.2 BPM when browsing social media. No surprise then that people give online shopping a stress rating of 4/10, compared with just 3/10 for social media. Women, however, enjoy online shopping more than men, but their heart rates raised 3.4% more than men when doing so.

The psychological implications of using social media are well reported, but it turns out that online shopping could be causing higher levels of stress – with heart rates raising more during the online shopping task than browsing social media platforms. Online shopping can also be compared to completing brainteasers, which received a stress rating of 4.4/10 – just marginally higher than online shopping (4.0).

Confusion over online shopping leads to many buying the wrong items

While 60% of participants say they prefer online shopping to shopping in-store, it’s apparently not always plain-sailing. When asked to rate their overall experience of online shopping, the average response was 6/10, suggesting that while things aren’t all bad, there is room for improvement.

Common online shopping challenges reported by the volunteers were:

  • not being able to assess the quality of a product before buying it
  • spending hours browsing because there’s so much to take in
  • ending up with the wrong sized clothing
  • inaccurate imagery
  • waiting for deliveries
  • having to return items

Online shopping poses more challenges for older people. The heart rate of over 55s went up by an average of 5.5% (3.6 BPM) while online shopping, compared to an average of 4.9% (3.2 BPM) across age groups. Over 55s took 44% longer to find what they were looking for when online shopping (7 mins 12 secs) than 26-35-year-olds (4 mins 36 secs), while 67% of over 55s have bought the wrong item online.

Unlike younger generations, over 55s haven’t grown up with the internet, making online shopping more of a challenge to navigate. In fact, over 55s rate their usual online shopping experience at just 5.8/10 – the lowest of all ages, with 54% stating they prefer shopping in-store.

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