August 29, 2002, 12:00 AM

Holiday shopping this year: Learn from last year, says Nielsen/NetRatings

During the 2001 holiday season, online sales were lost to phenomenal discounts offered at stores. E-retailers this year will have to price carefully and not rely solely on free shipping as a way to entice shoppers to buy online, Nielsen/NetRatings says.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

This year’s online holiday shopping season will look a lot like last year’s with the added urgency of not letting an uncertain economy get in the way of online selling, says new research from Nielsen/NetRatings.

Nielsen/NetRatings notes that during the 2001 holiday season, online sales were lost to phenomenal discounts offered at stores. E-retailers will have to price carefully and not rely solely on free shipping as a way to entice shoppers to buy online.

Just as last year, retailers’ marketing of online offerings will stress buying, not image. Last year, 40% of retailers’ ads relating to online buying were direct marketing oriented vs. 24% a year earlier. Nielsen/NetRatings expects that percentage to increase again this year.

The company also urged e-retailers to keep in mind that with lowered consumer confidence and the growing number of lower-income households shopping online, shoppers online are looking for value.

On the bright side, 58% of last year’s shoppers reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their online shopping experience, a strong base on which to increase this year’s sales, Nielsen/NetRatings said.

"The 2002 online holiday season will likely resemble the 2001 season, with the economy setting the tone and pace for e-commerce," said Lisa Strand, director and chief analyst, Nielsen/NetRatings. "With more than 85% of all adults online having shopped online within the last six months, e-retailers can position themselves early with strategic sales and promotions and capitalize on the growing number of online shoppers."

 

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