The Data Digest: Online Shopping — Researching Versus Purchasing

Recently, my colleague Jackie Anderson published a report, Understanding Online Shopper Behaviors, US 2011, and she indicated that 2010 online retail spending in the US had reached $175.2 billion and will grow at double-digit rates at least for another few years.

But among all the items that can be purchased online, some are more popular than others. We have extracted the top three and bottom three items that consumers research online and purchase online based on data from our North American Technographics® Retail Online Survey, Q3 2010 (US). The data shows that while online consumers are generally comfortable with both researching and purchasing books, hotel reservations, and airline tickets online, they still prefer to purchase footwear, consumer electronics, and household products from traditional channels.

About one-third of US Internet users aren't shopping online yet. The majority of them do use the Internet to research products but don't feel comfortable making the purchases online. The biggest barrier people mention for not buying online is their need to see things in person.


Online + Store

Would be interested in impact online search had on driving the traffic to a specific store and then purchased. Also, how else would you purchase airline tickets and make a hotel reservation? access to physical store for consumer electronics, footwear and household goods is easy.

And the fresh insight is?

I'm with Keith on this one - are we supposed to learn from this data? People buy books online. Hmm, ok, given that Amazon have led ecommerce for a decade, with billions of sales, starting in books, and have a unparalleled brand recall amongst consumers, I'd say we may already have this data in the public domain.
Also - people buy e-tickets online - this seems quite logical to me! Not a bad choice of channel to get them actually....please!

Enough of the flippancy now. Seriously folks, we live in a multichannel world. Insight into how these channels interact for different customer segments is both valuable and interesting information, not least because there is limited data currently available, and so can add to our understanding and development of meeting customer needs.
Beyond that, with multichannel retailing making most things available from more than one provider in more than one channel, customer experience becomes perhaps the most important factor in consumer decision making. So asking questions about how these channels interact, what features enable an online experience to complement or even replace a physical one is central to developing multichannel expertise.

Let's have more revealing insight into this, please, rather than Simply saying that"people need to see things in person".

Retail Insights

Rick and Keith,
thanks for your response.

Yes, we do live in a multi-channel world and some channels are more obvious for certain purchases than others. However, what is interesting is that still a third of US online consumers has never purchased a product online. And our historical data shows that this number hasn't seen much change since 2008.

Another take-away from this graphic is that with 31%, books are the most bought product in the US in the past three months (RR edit: in % of people buying this product). This shows that online buyers buy a wide range of products, but there is not one product that really stands out and that is bought by the majority of online shoppers.

Putting these two data points together, the growth we predict at the beginning of the Data Digest has to come from an increased spending per buying customer. We do ask all kind of questions to understand the drivers of online researching and purchasing, the customer experience, channel preference and usage. Based on this data we analyze how the retail channels interact, for different types of products and services, and for different target groups.

This Data Insights was produced to help people get a feel for the top 3 and bottom 3 products researched and purchased, as well as the relationship between the two, and get them thinking about eCommerce challenges.

Hope this helps,

Reineke - Thx! Appreciate

Reineke - Thx! Appreciate the additional insight.

Online's impact on in-store purchases

It's well known that the majority of all products purchased in the US are purchased in physical bricks and mortar stores (from shoes to groceries). Reineke - is there any Forrester data that looks at mutli-channel impact on in-store sales. Specifically, what % of consumers are researching purchases on-line but purchasing in stores?

Thanks and keep up the great work!

Yes I am also very interested

Yes I am also very interested in M. Allan's question regarding multi channel impact on in-store sales, and /or any data on what % of consumers are researching online but purchasing in stores.

Thank you,

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The idea is too complicated,

The idea is too complicated, if I want to buy something I have to see, to touch, to compare the item. I know some of my friends who are using this system and they are happy with it, but it's not my case. I like to go shopping, to search for the right item at a good price, it's a great activity. This weekend I am planning to search for Hungarian white goose down comforter for my mother. I won't be happy if I don't find the right one