For the first time in its five-year history, the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study has found that more than half (51 percent) of all purchases made by respondents are made online, up from 48 percent in 2015.

“Consumers are skilled at using technology to their advantage and thrive on gathering information when shopping,” says Teresa Finley, chief marketing officer at shipping company UPS. “This year’s UPS study revealed that 45 percent of online shoppers love the thrill of hunting for and finding great deals, and that physical stores continue to play an important role in that experience. The challenge is how to best engage with shoppers to fulfill their desires.”

UPS’s research also found that 17 percent of consumers plan to shop less in store. The use of smartphones is up 10 points (to 77 percent) over the past two years, and online shoppers report a better mobile experience with satisfaction up eight points (to 73 percent) since last year. Social media’s influence on purchasing decisions is up nine points (to 34 percent) in the last year with nearly a quarter of respondents (23 percent) having made purchases through social media sites.

Cross-channel transactions—purchases using in-store and at least one online channel—now account for 38 percent of all purchases (up two points). Store-only searches and purchases declined by two points (to 20 percent). Online sales also drive significant in-store traffic. Half of shoppers who buy online, ship to a physical store. Of these, 46 percent make additional purchases while picking up their items. A majority of shoppers (60 percent) also prefer to return items to a store, at which time 70 percent of them make additional purchases. Yet only 36 percent of shoppers say they experience helpful associates when returning items to a store.

“Cost, control and convenience are shoppers’ primary drivers,” says Finley. “Shoppers may be buying more online, but they still value the physical store. Providing an exceptional in-store experience can position the retailer to convert more sales and enhance loyalty when customers pick up and return items.”

For more on the UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper and its findings, click here.