Net-Driven Sales to Surge

Even when consumers are not actually transacting online, the Internet strongly influences purchases. According to a Channel Intelligence report, nearly half (45 percent) of the respondents to a Spring 2003 online questionnaire indicated that they were researching product information, rather than making an immediate buy.

Of the remaining 55 percent that had purchasing intentions, 11 percent immediately bought online, and 6 percent immediately bought offline. The locale was more difficult to determine for the 21 percent who indicated they would buy within 48 hours, and the 17 percent who intended to buy within the week.

Price was easily the leader among the criteria that was extremely or very important to e-tailer selection at 89 percent, followed by return policy at 78 percent. Ease of purchase at the retailer’s site was extremely or very important to 76 percent of the respondents; 73 percent cited name or reputation of retailer; and 65 percent deemed shipping rates and methods as extremely or very important.

Jupiter Research (a unit of this site’s corporate parent) supports the effects of the Internet on the retail market, with predictions that the medium will influence 34 percent of all U.S. retail spending by 2007. Jupiter expects online retail revenue to reach $105 billion by 2007, accounting for 5 percent of all U.S. retail spending.

Additionally, Hitwise noticed a correlation between online and offline retail spending in April 2003 when U.S. user traffic to online retailers jumped, mirroring a rise in the Consumer Confidence Index.

“U.S. online consumers appear to be in sync with U.S. consumers on the whole,” said Chris Maher, general manager of Hitwise, North America. “Once the worst of the war was over, their interest in spending improved.”

Findings from an AOL/RoperASW March 2003 study indicate the Internet’s universal impact on e-commerce, as 73 percent of European online consumers regularly or occasionally use the online medium to gather information about products to buy. Comparatively, AOL/RoperASW found that 77 percent of U.S. Internet users gathered information about products to buy, and 60 percent made online purchases.

European online consumers who purchase each product report that the Internet is their first resource for gathering information before making a product purchase in 12 of the 18 categories surveyed, beating all forms of traditional media, including television, radio, newspapers and magazines.

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