July 13, 2006, 12:00 AM

E-retailers face tough challenge in wooing store shoppers, new study says

When it comes to winning over shoppers to multiple channels, it may be more difficult for online retailers to attract store shoppers than it is for stores to attract online shoppers, a new study says.

Paul Demery

Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

When it comes winning over shoppers to multiple channels, it may be more difficult for online retailers to attract store shoppers than it is for stores to attract online shoppers, according to a new study from J.C. Williams Group, The E-Tailing Group and Smart Sampling.

The study, “Transforming the Multi-channel Shopper,” found that, among shoppers who primarily shop online, 84% were “very or extremely” satisfied with their Internet shopping experience, but only 67% were satisfied with their store shopping experience. The study is based on a survey of about 2,500 consumers in April 2006, including about 2,000 “online shoppers” who had made an online purchase within the prior six months and 500 “offline shoppers” who had purchased only offline during the same period.

But the void in channel experience was greater among shoppers who primarily shop in stores. While 88% of them were “very or extremely” satisfied with their in-store shopping, only 36% gave the same rating to their online shopping experience.

Store-focused shoppers were also less likely to give a high satisfaction rating to catalogs (42%, compared to 59% among online shoppers) and TV shopping channels (30%, compared to 37% among online shoppers).

The leading reason that store shoppers avoid online shopping, the study found, is their unease about using a credit card on the web, a reason cited by 44% of offline shoppers. Other reasons were:
--Concerns about privacy of personal data, cited by 42%;
--Shipping charges, 37%;
--No need to purchase online, 33%;
--Prefer to touch and feel product before purchase, 32%;
--Returning a product to difficult, 27%;
--Not seen anything online interested in buying, 21%.

Jim Okamura, senior partner at J.C. Williams and one of the authors of the study, said the study coincides with a maturing of the online retailing market and the challenge of winning over those consumers have yet to find online shopping attractive. “The holdouts tend to be more stubborn, and the implication for online retailers is a rising cost of customer acquisitions,” he says. “At some point, online retailers may need to rethink their acquisition vs. customer retention strategies.”

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