January 30, 2001, 5:16 PM

Online holiday 2000 shoppers were upbeat and moving to the web from other channels

Among shoppers who bought online during holiday shopping season 2000, 93% said the experience met or exceeded their expectations, according to the Pulse of the Consumer report out today from Cognitiative Inc. and Greenfield Online. Nearly 50% reported spending more online this year than last, and 55% of consumers predict their online shopping will increase in 2001. "The experienced shopper bought a larger proportion of their purchases online this year than ever before. And the highest volume purchaser was the happiest customer," said Laurie Windham, founder and CEO of Cognitiative, Inc.
While online holiday sales still represent a fraction of holiday spending, the study found that online shopping did impact consumer spending at other channels. As Internet shoppers increased the proportion of online holiday purchases, other channel sales were indeed cannibalized. Channels most significantly impacted, based on consumers' self-reported behavior, were direct mail catalogs and home shopping TV networks. In both cases, approximately 50% of the online consumers claimed to have purchased less from these channels because of their web purchases. Retail store purchases were also impacted, with 40% of consumers reporting fewer holiday purchases from these traditional shopping channels. "Going forward, our research shows that retailers are going to have to factor in these swings in channel behavior," said Tricia Rosen, a research analyst from Greenfield Online. "We expect to see this trend intensify as web use climbs even higher than the current 50%+ of U.S. households and experience levels advance. As consumers become more seasoned Internet users, they will buy more from this channel."
Even though expectations were largely met and 50% reported not having experienced any problems while buying online this holiday season, the other 50% did encounter difficulties in a few areas. In fact, 41% reported having abandoned online shopping processes before completing the transactions during the holiday season. Most problems related to products being out of stock. Frustrations from this were further exacerbated by poor communications from the e-retail sites. While many consumers learned real time that the products they desired were out-of-stock, many others reported that they were notified hours and even days after they placed orders that products were unavailable to ship in time for the holidays. Consumers also experienced problems with sites downloading slowly and being unavailable or crashing--often losing orders in-progress. While the volume of these types of problems appear to be diminishing compared to last year, they persist for about one-third of online buying consumers.
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