Consumers use retailers’ web sites more to arm themselves for offline shopping than they do to buy products, says a new study of multi-channel retailing from Columbus, OH-based consultants Retail Forward Inc. Retail Forward’s E-Retail Intelligence Program surveyed 707 Internet users from March 28 to April 1 and found that the greatest number of shoppers who visit a retailer’s web site do so to research products. The second highest use was to make an online purchases, followed by finding a store location.
Half of the consumers surveyed cited product research as the top reason they use store web sites, while 40% said they use the sites for online purchases and 31% said they used the store locator. Only 5% of those surveyed said they had never visited the web site of a store-based retailer.
Mary Brett Whitfield, senior vice president and director of the E-retail Intelligence Program, says the results give quantitative support to the anecdotal evidence that chain retailers have noticed ever since they put up web sites. Almost from the start of Internet-based retailing, retailers have noticed that customers have come into the store carrying pages they had printed from the web site. Whitfield says the popularity of the store-locator function indicates that web sites might be replacing yellow pages ads. Online shoppers who cited the store locator as a top-three use of retail web sites also used the sites to get store hours, directions and other basic store information.