September 27, 2012, 2:05 PM

The web rules purchase decisions, a new study says

Most U.S. online shoppers research at least half of all retail purchases online.

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More than half, 54% to be precise, of U.S. consumers who regularly shop on the web research products online before making a purchase, whether they buy in a store, on the web, via a mobile device, or through a catalog call center, according to a study released this week by research and advisory firm The E-tailing Group Inc.

The study also notes that 76% of consumers research online at least 30% of all retail purchases, and that only 2%  of consumers never conduct online research before making a purchase. The study also found that 43% of respondents said they were making more online purchases via laptops or PCs than a year ago, that 16% were shopping the web more via smartphone, and that only 13% were shopping more in stores. And when in stores, 26% of consumers said they use their smartphones to compare prices on Amazon.com, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500, and 21% compare prices at other retailers, the study found.

The study was commissioned by Oracle Corp., a provider of software systems that support multichannel retailing operations. It was based on a May 2012 survey of 1,033 U.S. consumers who typically shop online at least four times a year and spend $500 or more online each year. Every respondent owned a smartphone; 48% owned a tablet computer. And 29% of respondents were members of Amazon Prime, the shipping service that offers free two-day shipping for an annual membership fee of $79.

The level of research varies by purchasing categories, however, with purchases on technology getting the most research, followed by discretionary purchases such as on apparel and furniture, and commodity purchases, such as on office supplies and diapers. “The web has clearly shifted consumer behavior towards research to varying degrees based on purchase category,” the E-tailing Group  says.

When asked if they research purchases most or all of the time, 75% of the consumers surveyed said they do so for technology purchases, 65% for discretionary purchases, and 50% for commodities.

The study reported the following percentages of respondents who cited the following features as “critical/very important” in making purchase decisions:

● Price, 80%

● Ability to purchase online for home delivery, 62%

● Getting product within a day or two, 54%

● Ability to purchase locally at a store, 45%

● Online advice/reviews from peers, 38%

● Loyalty rewards points, 38%

● Manufacturer’s content like how-to guides and demos, 36%

● Purchasing online for store pickup, 33%

● Word-of-mouth advice from friends, 32%

● Advice in social media, 18%

The study also reported the following percentages of respondents who cited the following among the top three things influencing a purchase decision:

● Product quality, 56%

● Free shipping, 49%

● Easy return options, 35%

● Customer reviews, 33%

● Visual details of products, 30%

● Ability to quickly find what want, 26%

● Multiple options for shipping and product pickup, 24%

● Ease of checkout, 24%

● Ability to find special products or sizes, 12%

● Discovering new products, 10%

Regarding in-store shopping behavior, the study reported the following percentages of respondents who often take the following actions on their smartphones:

● Check prices on Amazon, 26%

● Access coupons to redeem in store, 24%

● Check product ratings and reviews, 21%

● Check prices on e-commerce sites other than Amazon, 21%

● Scan bar codes and compare prices from other retailers, 22%

● Check prices on comparison shopping engines, 18%

● Scan bar codes for more product information, 21%

● Check prices on the store retailer’s mobile site, 22%

● Check the store retailer’s web site for more product information, 20%

● Check in with Shopkick, Foursquare or similar services for rewards points,  13%

● Make a purchase at another retailer

The following percentages of study respondents said they were making more purchases this year compared to last year through the following retail channels:

● Web via laptop or PC, 43%

● Web via tablet computer, 17%

● Web via smartphone, 16%

● Retail stores, 13%

● Web via Facebook, 8%

 

 

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