April 10, 2007, 12:00 AM

More than two-thirds of consumers shop online before buying offline

A new survey from consultants Accenture reports that most consumers use the web to research products or retailers before making a purchase. 69% research product features, 68% compare prices and 58% locate items online before going to a store to shop.

A new survey from consultants Accenture reports that a strong majority of consumers use the Internet to research products or retailers before making a purchase. 69% research product features online, 68% compare prices online before shopping in a physical store and 58% locate items online before going to a store to purchase, reports the survey of 600 U.S. consumers. Only 13% said the Internet has not improved their in-store shopping experience.

“Instead of replacing bricks-and-mortar stores, the Internet is an extension of consumers’ in-store shopping experience providing a resource to research product and price,” says Jeff Smith, global managing director of Accenture’s Retail practice. “Retailers and manufacturers must understand this consumer behavior trend in order to reach shoppers, educate them, serve them and earn their loyalty.”

67% said they prefer to make purchases in physical stores.

The study also says that more men than women (51% vs. 39%) report the Internet has improved the in-store shopping experience by allowing them to order items online for in-store pick-up. More men than women (17% vs. 9%) purchase in-store to get better prices while more women than men (16% vs. 8%) purchase in-store to avoid shipping charges.

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