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UK online shoppers clock up virtual mileage of 6,000 miles: study

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The average UK online shopper would have travelled more than 6,000 miles last year if they had travelled in person to buy the goods they bought during that time, rather than buying them over the internet or in stores.

The Unfaithful Consumer report, produced by research analyst Conlumino for Webloyalty, found the notional distance was up by 1,500% since 2005 – when the figure was 358 miles – representing a real change over the last decade to the way that shoppers buy. Back in 1995, the distance was 50 miles.

The figures were calculated from consumers’ use of both stores and websites over the space of a year. They take into account the physical distance they would have travelled from where they were when they researched, browsed or bought. With stores, that means the distance travelled from home or work to the shop. Online, that means the distance from the consumer’s home to the nearest city where they would have found it. When foreign websites are used, the distance is the number of miles from the UK and the other country. The 6,000 miles clocked up last year would take the average shopper to Russia and back.

Guy Chiswick, managing director at Webloyalty Northern Europe, said: “Shoppers have become increasingly globalised, stretching their geographical footprint to browse, compare and buy in every corner of the world. Because of this expansion of choice and the technology that has become available, consumers are feeling empowered and retailers are finding it even harder to remain relevant.

“Digital disruption has changed the shopping experience. The fear of buying without trying first has mostly disappeared. Retailers have introduced more flexible return and refund policies, making the shopping experience more convenient. Consumers have also become more reliant on their peers, with online reviews and social media now powerful influencers in customer loyalty.”

The report argues that consumers are spoilt for choice, and offers suggestions including improvements to the customer experience, the use of technology and the continuing importance of physical retail destinations in order to win their interest.

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