The line between online and offline shopping continues to blur and become more fractured as consumers seek out multiple touchpoints toward a purchase decision, with social media playing an increasingly important role in discovery, research and conversion, according to new research from leading provider of product reviews and user-generated content (UGC) solutions, Bazaarvoice.

When asked what mode of shopping they felt happiest in, 65% of shoppers said a hybrid of both in-store and online, 28% said in-store and 7% said online. Among those aged 25 to 34, three-quarters enjoy a hybrid of shopping methods (75%), but for those aged 65 and over, only just over half (56%).  

In addition, almost three-quarters of shoppers use their smartphone in-store to look at price comparisons (74%), product reviews (64%), advice from friends or family (34%), and product demonstrations (32%). 

UGC forms seven of the top 10 types of research shoppers prefer to utilise before buying: product ratings, written reviews from verified buyers, expert reviews, questions and answers, recommendations from friends or family, shopper photos of the product, and visual reviews from verified buyers.  

One in five said they shop on social media, mostly from live shopping online (47%), Facebook shops (43%), via influencers’ Instagram stories (37%), and via ads on Instagram (35%). After seeing a product online, 82% are more likely to go in-store when it has a high price, 54% say to check the quality, and 46% said to get instant ownership. 

“Consumers are savvier than ever before, researching products before buying them using every touchpoint available, making shopping less segmented than ever,” Bazaarvoice chief marketing officer, Zarina Lam Stanford said.

“This allows businesses to utilise the voice of the consumer to their advantage. Providing it online, on social media, and even in-store, presents the research materials that shoppers crave no matter where they are.”