January 20, 2005, 12:00 AM

A third of shoppers often shop the web and buy at the store

One-third of consumers often shop the web and then go to a bricks-and-mortar store to buy, and nearly everybody expects a seamless online and offline experience, says a study by Fry Inc., comScore Networks and The E-Tailing Group Inc.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor


One-third of consumers often shop the web then go to a store to buy, and nearly everybody expects a seamless combined online and offline experience, according to a joint study by Fry Inc., comScore Networks Inc. and The E-Tailing Group Inc. They call the findings the first “Evolution of the Multi-Channel Consumer” study.

Among the 34% who frequently shop online and later make the purchase in a store, 46% start by typing keywords into a search engine and 39% go directly to a retailing site, the research indicates. “The degree to which shoppers now turn immediately to the web underscores the critical role of retail site design in attracting and engaging the multi-channel consumer,” says David Fry, president of Fry Inc. At the same time, retailers may want to use offline advertising to increase awareness of their online storefronts, he says.

Once consumers embark upon a multi-channel shopping trip, nearly all of them expect the channels to support each other, according to the study. In fact, 97% say they anticipate a seamless experience when they blend channels. More retailers, including Best Buy, Circuit City, Sears and Lowe’s, are catering to shoppers who like to buy online and pick up the merchandise at a store. 36% of online shoppers report having used the process, the study says, and among them 81% rated the in-store pickup as good or excellent. However, nearly one out of three reported waiting more than 10 minutes to pick up a package. Just 5% had expected to wait that long.

36% say they have used in-store kiosks and shopping computers. The most popular uses for kiosks included checking product availability and location (74%), listening to music (73%), getting product or category information (68%), and searching for gifts (also 68%). Users reported generally good experiences when using kiosks for those purposes. Reactions weren’t as upbeat among the 50% who used the kiosk for help with home improvement or other projects. 46% used kiosks to place online orders, and 62% gave that experience a positive rating.

Researchers found differences across product categories in shopping styles, motivation and experiences. For example, 35% of shoppers say they look to retailers for gift ideas, while 10% want assistance in buying computers.



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