E-tailers Will See Green

It’s going to be a busy holiday season, as research indicates that shoppers will take to the Net, buying and spending more than they did in previous years. Jupiter Research (a unit of this site’s corporate parent) expects 2003’s online holiday sales to be led by new shoppers, resulting in a 21 percent increase over 2002. According to the firm’s holiday shopping report, nearly 40 percent of surfers plan to do some or all of their holiday gift-buying online, ringing up an average of $265 per person.


Online Holiday Sales Growth
2000 $8.7 billion
2001 $11.2 billion
2002 $13.8 billion
2003 $16.8 billion
Source: Jupiter Research

Patti Freeman Evans, retail analyst at Jupiter Research, found a correlation between online tenure and e-commerce, noting that longer term Internet usage contributed to shopping confidence. But, the influx of new online shoppers isn’t expected to make a significant dent in other retailing methods, as Freeman Evans found that consumers are using channels in tandem. “Shoppers are leafing through catalogs and then going online and using electronic order forms for their purchases.” The multi-channel method is one more way to streamline the shopping process, explained Freeman Evans.

The main motivation online shoppers cite is convenience, with a large percentage indicating that they shop when stores are closed. Others look to avoid holiday crowds or wrapping presents.


Reasons Shoppers Cite for Buying Online
Save time by not going to store 70%
Can shop when stores are closed 69%
Avoid the holiday crowds 68%
Might be able to find better prices 59%
Can find products online more easily 52%
Find products not available in stores 50%
Easier to compare prices 47%
Have gifts sent directly to recipient 36%
Can avoid wrapping gifts 13%
Can earn loyalty points 13%
Purchase from wish list 10%
Source: Jupiter Research/IPSOS

Price remains the primary driver when shoppers decide which e-tailers to patronize, but less so in 2003 than in 2002. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of surveyed shoppers indicated that low price would influence their decision to buy from a certain online store in 2002 – dropping to 60 percent in 2003 – and 56 percent cited low cost shipping options in 2002, but only 48 percent indicated the same influencer in 2003.

Roughly one-third (32 percent) looked for stores that would ship products right away in 2002, but nobody cared about immediacy in 2003. This is likely due to the Jupiter finding that 46 percent planned to buy gifts more than 4 weeks before holiday deadlines.

Despite early intentions, e-tailers encourage last-minute orders with 37 percent extending cut-off dates for guaranteed delivery, and 34 percent offering free or discounted express shipping for latecomers. Procrastinators can derive comfort in knowing that 22 percent of e-tailers are guaranteeing Christmas delivery as long as the order is placed by December 23.

Clothing and shoes are going to be the most popular items for female shoppers, while men held a narrow margin on book-buying. Women outpaced men almost 2-to-1 on toy shopping, but men widened the gap on computers and accessories, and consumer electronics. Music crossed gender lines, with 27 percent of each group indicating that they bought or planned to buy music items online.

Meanwhile, a Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) study on the holiday purchasing habits of those aged 12-to-17 found that computers top their wish lists, along with game consoles, cell phones, and portable CD and MP3 players.

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