June 18, 2002, 12:00 AM

Another example of the death of the one-size-fits all web strategy

Some products are better suited to online research and offline buying than others, says new research.

Retailers and researchers have devoted a lot of attention lately to the role of the Internet as a research medium that influences offline sales. But not all categories are created equal and some products lend themselves much better to online research and offline buying than others, says new research from consultants Retail Forward Inc.

By far, the category most influenced by online research is consumer electronics, Retail Forward says. 38% of Internet users said they had researched a product at a web site and bought it in the store from the same retailer. A distant number two, at 23%, is clothing, with computers number three at 22%.

Here is Retail Forward’s ranking of products in online research/in-store purchases among Internet users:
Consumer electronics, 38%
Clothing, 23%
Personal computers, 22%
Toys, 17%
Home accents/housewares, 13%
Major appliances, 12%
Furniture, 9%
Sporting goods, 9%
Have not researched products at a retailer’s site and then shopped at that retailer’s store for any of the above categories, 36%

“Like any other business strategy, a retailer’s multi-channel strategy should depend on what you’re selling and to whom you’re selling it,” says Mary Brett Whitfield, senior vice president of Retail Forward and director of the company’s E-Retail Intelligence Program.

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