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Online Shoppers Prefer Aggregators Over Merchant Sites

  |  March 24, 2005   |  Comments

Consumers shop around for better prices, sales and discounts.

Most online consumers (59 percent) begin their shopping searches on aggregator sites rather than at merchant sites, according to a report conducted by BizRate Research on behalf of Shopzilla. Aggregator sites include search engines, comparison shopping sites, shopping portals, and auction sites.

This represents a 13 percent rise since late 2002, when approximately 46 percent of online shoppers reportedly went to aggregator sites, and the majority (54 percent) went straight to merchant sites.

"The key message is that fewer people start their shopping at merchant sites than at aggregators," said Chuck Davis, Shopzilla's president and chief executive. "It is a trend that is continuing."

The findings are based on a survey of 923 online shoppers conducted February 22 - 28, 2005. Respondents were selected from a panel of 790,000 online shoppers. A similar study was conducted December 4-9, 2002.

One lever apparently driving the growth is the degree of price comparison available on the Web. The survey found approximately 87 percent of online shoppers compare online retail offers with catalog merchants and retail stores to find the best price. Roughly 71 percent said they were able to find better sales and discount offers online than with offline retailer or catalog merchants.

Davis also attributes growth to increasing broadband adoption. BizRate found home broadband consumers shop online about 50 percent more than shoppers with slower connections.

Search engines are the most popular type of aggregator used by online shoppers, with 54 percent of the market. In second place are comparison shopping sites, which draw 24 percent of aggregator traffic. Auction sites and shopping portals draw less than 15 percent of traffic, but Davis cautions many consumers lack a meaningful grasp of the distinctions.

"Consumers get mixed up when you try to delineate between aggregator types," Davis said. "So the more meaningful figure is the 59 percent [who prefer aggregator sites to merchant sites]."

Market Share by Aggregator Type
Aggregator Type Percentage
Search engines 54
Comparison shopping sites 24
Auction sites 14
Shopping portals 8
Source: BizRate Research

The most popular price-comparison shopping categories are books and clothing. The most searched-for individual brands are electronics and clothing companies, including Sony, Cannon, Gucci, Panasonic, HP, Louis Vuitton, Nike, Motorola, and Ralph Lauren.

As for consumer loyalty, 34 percent of online shoppers said they buy the same brand "most of the time" when shopping online; 62 percent reported buying the same brand "some of the time." About one percent reported buying the same brand "always."

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