Internet, Stores Work Together

Research done by the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association (CEMA) found that nearly 60 percent of online shoppers are using both established retail stores and the Internet in most of their product purchases.

The research also found more than 40 percent of consumers who use brick-and-mortar retail in combination with cyber-retail are more likely to patronize a retailer with an e-commerce enabled Web site. This result holds true for across different generational groups, household buying power, and types of Internet shopper.

“Interesting synergies are taking shape between traditional brick-and-mortar retailers and the online world,” said Todd Thibodeaux, VP of Market Research for CEMA. Almost 60 percent of online consumers think the Internet has made them more educated shoppers. This education process cuts both ways — some consumers are being educated at retail stores and then buying online, others are educating themselves about products online and then buying at retail.”

CEMA’s survey was conducted via email with 2,725 online households. Only 6 percent of the respondents think online shopping is a novelty. In fact, 29 percent of the respondents expect to double their online buying in the next 12 months.

More than one-third (35 percent) of online shoppers have made specific visits to a retailer to “see and learn about a product” only to leave and purchase the same product from an online retailer. The group most likely to exhibit such behavior are Gen-X shoppers. More than 40 percent of Gen-Xers have, in the past 12 months, used a traditional store as little more than a product showroom or library where they could see, feel, and touch products and then pick the brain of a retail salesperson. The vast majority of all online shoppers opt to consummate the purchase online instead of at a retail store because of price.

A large number of online shoppers are also doing the reverse. Roughly half of all online purchases are using the Internet as a research tool to make informed purchases in traditional retail stores. Shoppers use the Internet for product research, price, comparisons, and reviews according to CEMA. The flow of consumers from Internet research to brick-and-mortar sales is not differentiated to any large extent by generations. Gen-X and Baby Boomers are equally likely (53 percent) to use the Internet as a tool for traditional purchases. Only seniors are less likely (45 percent) to utilize the Internet as a tool.

Purchases by households with less buying power (less than $25,000 annual income) are less likely than higher income households to use the Internet to research their traditional retail purchases, but they are more likely than higher income households to do the opposite.

Online shoppers who think saving money is the biggest benefit of the Internet are group most likely (61 percent) to use traditional retail as a prelude to online purchases. Savings-conscious online shoppers are 33 percent more likely to go from retail to Internet than the next closest type of consumer (those who like the Internet because it makes them smarter shoppers). These two shopper types (20 percent of online consumers) are more likely to go from retail to e-commerce than Internet shoppers looking for convenience and selection.

Regardless of the type of shopper, CEMA’s survey found that when a shopper goes to a store and then shops online, he or she does so in order to find lower prices.

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