In-store shopping most trusted, but buying online is overall favorite

U.S. consumers love e-commerce; mobile shopping -- not so much

When it comes to where to shop -- online or in-store -- U.S. consumers are split.

A majority (59%) of U.S. consumers say shopping online is their "overall favorite" way to shop, according to a survey from Nielsenwire. Meanwhile, 68% also called online shopping the easiest and most convenient way to shop.

However, traditional in-store shopping hasn't fallen by the wayside. Nielsen reported that 77% of U.S. consumers say shopping in brick-and-mortar stores is the safest, and 69% said it's the most reliable.

"It's no surprise that people are just happier about shopping online," said Zeus Kerravala, an analyst with ZK Research. "I think it's becoming easier to shop online. Almost every retailer has greatly simplified the process."

He considers Amazon.com the best online shopping site, with its one-touch buying, ability to compare shipping rates and prices from multiple vendors.

"People often find something in a store and then buy it online to save money," Kerravala said. "Online retailers have gotten smarter."

While in-store and online shopping both have high points, shopping with a mobile device has yet to catch on.

According to Nielsen, shopping by means of smartphones and other mobile devices came in third place across nearly all measures. It was a distant second to online shopping for "most convenient" (38%) and "easiest (27%).

Kerravala agrees that mobile shopping is still difficult, but it's making progress. "In general, the mobile experience is poor for shopping," he said. "It requires too much data entry and the screen is too small to really see your purchase. But FTD has a very good mobile interface. I order flowers for my wife on my mobile device now."

While consumers may not buy products via their smartphones and tablets, they are using their devices while they shop.

In February, comScore reported that more than half of U.S. smartphone users have researched products while in a store. At the end of 2011, nearly one in five smartphone users had scanned product barcodes and nearly one in eight compared prices while in a store.

Kerravala also said that it's far from time to poo poo tried-and-true shopping in a physical store.

"I think there will always be a place for in-store shopping," he added. "It gives you the ability to talk to someone, to try something on. That experience can't be matched online."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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