Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Uberall survey reveals consumer preference for ‘phygital’ retail

Contact-free payment and ability to text message businesses are important to over 80 percent of UK consumers 

Uberall has announced the findings of its survey of over 1,000 UK consumers and their current shopping behaviour. 

During COVID, the world naturally gravitated towards ecommerce. However, Uberall research shows that local business locations are still essential to UK consumers, and that today’s consumers favour ‘phygital’ retail that merges digital and physical retail, taking the best elements of each to enhance both, and optimise customer experience.

Consumer in-store visits begin online

Long gone are the days when consumers got in their cars, drove to different stores and wandered around to find what they needed. Consumers now search online first before heading to the high street. In fact, the majority of consumers (79%) use Google to find local business information. 

Nearly one in four consumers consult content-specific websites/apps for things like travel, real estate, and restaurants, and approximately every fifth consumer says they also use TripAdvisor and Apple Maps to find the information they need. Consequently, a strong online presence across different channels is essential, because, despite Google’s dominance, consumers are using a multitude of search platforms and directories to find local business information.

Online reviews drive in-store visits 

Throughout the pandemic, businesses have strived to maintain customer engagement by sharing relevant news and updates on websites, business profiles and email. While these digital channels are effective, another pillar of customer communication is social media and online review management. 

Uberall research shows that 78 percent of UK consumers look to Google online for local business reviews, followed by one in three consumers consulting Facebook, one in four checking Tripadvisor, and one in five seeking out Trustpilot. Nearly one-third of UK consumers look at multiple review sites before making a buying decision. 

Given the large proportion of consumers that rely on online reviews, businesses can significantly increase customer engagement and build trust by being responsive to online reviews. Add to that, Google considers the number of reviews and a business’s review score in selecting its all-important top three search results – especially important for businesses striving to stand out online and drive foot traffic in-store.

Digital convenience drives offline sales

In essence, shoppers want retailers to make it easy for them to find and buy products, both online and in-store. Contact-free payment is important to 81 percent of UK consumers, with four out of ten stating they are more likely to come back to stores or restaurants that offer contact-free payments like Apple or Google Pay.

The pandemic has also changed consumer expectations about the immediacy of customer service responses, as well as the available ways to connect with stores digitally. 80 percent of those surveyed said the ability to text a business about products, services or hours is important, and it seems businesses are listening, with more and more outlets offering customers the ability to ask questions via text and book appointments with businesses. 

The use of smart speakers to shop and buy via voice has also risen for UK consumers. In 2019, only 10 percent of consumers stated they used voice search daily and 57 percent reported that they never use voice search, per Uberall research. Now, close to one-third of consumers (30 percent) report that they have completed a purchase on a smart speaker, like Google Home or Amazon Alexa, in the last year.


Businesses can’t afford to think of online and in-store commerce as separate activities anymore. Consumers have a multitude of options at hand when it comes to finding the products and services they need. As a result, brands that are responsive to shopper’s wants and needs – and make their services more convenient, accessible and customer-focused – stand the best chance of winning the business of today’s phygital consumer. 

Survey methodology:

Total sample size was 1,006 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken 23-27 April 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+). Male and female respondents were split evenly.