Consumers Plan To Embrace E-Commerce In Q4

The second wave of the Yahoo/ACNielsen Internet Confidence Index found that so-called “light” Internet users will help lead $16 billion worth of online spending in the fourth quarter of 2001.

The Index measures consumers’ attitudes related to nine potential motivators and barriers to e-commerce, as well as three facets of purchasing behavior. The index score for the initial Index was set at 100 for use as a baseline, allowing for subsequent survey data to be converted into trended indexed scores.

The results of this wave of the Internet Confidence Index indicate that light Internet users (those who use the Internet less than once a day) had a positive impacted on the Index. In fact, 43 percent of light users said they intend to shop online this quarter, compared to 29 percent as identified in the first wave of the Index in June 2001. The study also showed that light and “heavy” users (those who use the Internet on a daily basis) share similar motivators when it comes to online purchasing, including having access to helpful product information, the ability to comparison shop and the option to choose from a wide array of products.

Overall, the findings indicate that the Index measuring e-commerce activities has increased five points over the inaugural survey released. Results from the Index include projected online spending of $16 billion for the fourth quarter of 2001.

“The five point rise shows that Internet users, even light users, are embracing shopping online as part of their overall shopping behavior,” said Travyn Rhall, ACNielsen’s Managing Director of International Research. “The e-commerce industry is evolving with peripheral online shoppers, the lighter users, women and the less educated all exhibiting significantly greater increases in intended online spending.”

Despite a weakening economy, the Internet Confidence Index has seen a marked increase of seven points among Internet users, and five points among a general audience (Internet users and non-users), over the last quarter. The Index has indicated that consumers intend to spend a projected $16 billion online during the last quarter of the year 2001, compared to the results of the first wave of the Internet Confidence Index, which projected $9.9 billion for online consumer spending during the third quarter of 2001.

Similar to the findings of the first Index, consumers rated comfort level with using a credit card online and disclosure of personal information as perceived barriers. Consumers also said they didn’t believe that buying online would allow them to find products that were lower in price. In comparison to the inaugural findings, consumers seemed even more confident that the goods they purchased online would be delivered properly. The results of the next quarter’s Index will show what effect the events of Sept. 11 and their aftermath played on e-commerce.

According to eMarketer, the online buying population continues to grow, reaching 79.3 million this year, with an increasing number of consumers opting to buy from trusted names from the offline world. eMarketer estimates that U.S. B2C e-commerce revenues, which totaled $38.3 billion in 2000, will quadruple to $156 billion by 2005.

“It’s clear that the Internet has been accepted and is evolving as a key distribution channel — not a separate business entity — for traditional merchants,” said Geoff Ramsey, CEO of eMarketer. “E-commerce has become a strategic imperative for all retail merchants since consumers like to shop seamlessly across channels, including the Internet. Moreover, the lines are rapidly blurring between traditional business operations and the Internet pure-plays, to the benefit of the companies with the strongest brand names, largest customer bases and strongest financial positions.”

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