Shoppers Utilize Multi-Channel Choices

Consumers have not traded malls for e-commerce yet, but the Internet played a key role during the 2002 holiday shopping season, according to research from DoubleClick.

Even though the number of shoppers relying solely on the Internet for holiday gifts surged from 4 percent in 2001 to 10 percent in 2002, it is the multi-channel consumer that is becoming most valuable. DoubleClick found that 56 percent of the 1,270 adult consumers that were surveyed used a combination of shopping sources, spending an average of 39 percent more than those who visited only one channel – $909 for multi-channel shoppers, compared to $654 for single channel consumers.

The Internet picked up the bulk of the additional spending, as 43 percent of the respondents indicated that they spent more online in 2002, and 45 percent said that they would buy more online next year.

The “Retail/Internet” combo proved to be as popular as the more conventional “Retail only” option with both claiming 33 percent of the holiday shoppers. Less common were catalog shoppers – “Catalog/Internet,” “Retail/Catalog” and “Catalog only” grabbed a mere 1 percent of the holiday shopping pie each.

The Internet had a profound affect on holiday sales even when the transaction didn’t occur online. The study found that browsing Web sites was a popular pastime for shoppers, driving 45 percent into retail stores to buy. Additionally, catalog browsers helped out e-commerce sales, sending 15 percent to Web sites to make purchases, and retail window-shoppers drove 17 percent of multi-channel shoppers to buy online.

E-tailers that practiced strategic email marketing were aptly rewarded during the 2002 holiday shopping season – one-third of multi-channel shoppers used email promotional codes to complete their online transactions. DoubleClick noted that price, convenience, and selection were among the primary reasons for online shopping, but delivery time and lack of tactile gratification was an impediment for some consumers.

As consumers become more comfortable with online shopping, and e-tailers continue to optimize site performance, enhance email marketing strategies, and improve customer outreach, the Internet could likely garner a bigger share of retail’s holiday dollars While brick-and-mortar stores are still the most popular venue for shoppers, the numbers are slipping – 85 percent of respondents patronized retail stores in 2002, compared to 90 percent in 2001.

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