Shoppers Say E-Commerce Was Good for Them

Nine out of every 10 online shoppers said they were satisfied with their overall online holiday shopping experiences, according to an NPD e-Visory report, which found that 57 percent of online shoppers reported being very or extremely satisfied.

NPD also found that during the 2000 holiday season, online retailers generated nearly twice the revenues as they did during the holiday season of 1999. And the shoppers from 2000 expect to keep using online retailers in the new year. Forty percent reported they will buy online within the month of January 2001.


Online Shoppers
Having Difficulty
No difficulties 37%
Out of stock items 31%
Site temporarily down 23%
Couldn’t find item 21%
Received item late 14%
Didn’t receive item 6%
Poor customer service 6%
Site out of business 5%
Source: NPD

Although online holiday shoppers say they were satisfied in 2000, 63 percent did encounter some difficulties, but the problems appear to be fewer and had little impact on overall satisfaction. Thirty-seven percent reported no difficulties at all.

“People seem to be learning the nuances of online shopping,” said Pamela Smith, VP of NPD Online. “Since they did their online holiday shopping earlier this year, issues like out-of-stock items or ‘site temporarily down,’ while annoying, did not affect their satisfaction. Satisfied customers, double the revenue, fewer difficulties, high expectations for future online buying — we see 2000 was a very good year after all.”

The demographics of online buyers looked more like mainstream US buyers than ever before in 2000. More than half of the purchasers were female; more than one-third were older than 45; and half had incomes below $60,000, according to NPD. Shipping fees remain the major reason people did not shop online. Thirty-four percent of all Internet users reported that “lower or no shipping fees” as the top feature that, if improved, would make them buy more online as opposed to traditional stores. Even among those who did buy online shipping fees emerged as the feature they were least satisfied with.

Average order size during the 2000 online holiday shopping season grew 27 percent, up from an increase of only 8 percent during the 1999 holiday season, according to research from Shop.org and The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The research also found that revenues grew 76 percent over last year’s holiday season, which combined with growth in the average order size, offers a favorable sign for online retailers. Shop.org and BCG surveyed 35 leading online retailers in major gift categories for the period Nov. 18 to Dec. 21.

“This increase in order size shows the growing trust consumers have in the online channel,” said Elaine Rubin, Shop.org Chairman. “Higher average spend will allow online retailers to recover their customer acquisition costs — which in the third quarter had dipped down to $20 — sooner. It is also an indication that many of the holiday promotions such as free shipping with large orders proved successful.”

The 2000 Online Retail Monitor by NFO Interactive found that security still plays a role in whether or not people shop online. In analyzing individuals who state they are unlikely to make a purchase online in the future, 72 percent of them state that they are concerned about security. Customer service also undermines online shopping: 41 percent of the 2,134 Internet users surveyed by NFO said they would feel more confident in a site if they could email a sales representative for customer service; 45 percent said they would visit a site if that email were responded to within 12 hours.

Other findings from NFO’s Online Retail Monitor include:

  • 80 percent of those surveyed have actually transacted online at some time
  • While men once dominated online shopping, 58 percent of current online shoppers are female
  • Three-fourths of all online purchasers are made by one-fourth of online shoppers. These online shoppers have purchased from, on average, six categories in the past three months
  • 16 percent of online consumers have used a shopping agent when researching a product online or making a purchase, but their use of agents is not strictly to find the lowest price.

According to Media Metrix, 34.3 million unique visitors on average went to retail sites each week during the 2000 holiday shopping season (week ending Nov. 26, 2000 through week ending Dec. 24, 2000), up 30.3 percent compared to the 1999 holiday-shopping season and surpassing the Web’s overall growth of 18.6 percent during the same period.

“While retail sites drew an unprecedented number of online shoppers this holiday season and even had an aggregate growth rate surpassing that of the overall Web, this year will be better remembered by the strong performance of many traditional offline brands like Walmart, Bestbuy, American Greetings and Staples,” said Anne Rickert, measurement analyst, Media Metrix. “At the same time, this season was marked by the continued dominance of a few existing e-tailers, mainly Amazon.”

Amazon.com was the No. 1 retail site over the five-week holiday season for the second year in a row, with a year-over-year increase in holiday-season traffic of 47.8 percent. Six of the top 10 gaining retail sites for the 2000 holiday shopping season were traditional offline brands — Walmart.com, Bestbuy.com, AmericanGreetings.com, Staples.com, Hallmark.com and Sears.com.


Holiday Shopping Season Traffic, 1999 vs. 2000
(5-week average in unique visitors)
1999 2000
Rank Site Unique
Visitors
Rank Site Unique
Visitors
1. Amazon.com 1,071,000 1. Amazon.com 1,583,000
2. MyPoints.com 869,000 2. MyPoints.com 1,391,000
3. Webstakes.com 433,000 3. Americangreetings.com 538,000
4. Buy.com 348,000 4. Half.com 511,000
5. eToys.com 338,000 5. BizRate.com 510,000
6. BizRate.com 310,000 6. Webstakes.com 446,000
7. ToysRUs.com 294,000 7. Walmart.com 370,000
8. BarnesandNoble.com 286,000 8. CDNow.com 320,000
9. CDNow.com 277,000 9. Buy.com 316,000
10. eGreetings.com 219,000 10. eToys.com 310,000
Source: Media Metrix

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