4/20/06

Mainstream shoppers pose multi-channel challenge for online retailers

As more mainstream consumers become online buyers, Internet retailers are going to have to become more adept at multi-channel integration, according to a new study from Forrester Research, which notes that 40% of online shoppers are new to technology.

Paul Demery , Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

As more mainstream consumers become online buyers, Internet retailers are going to have to become more adept at multi-channel integration, according to a new study from Forrester Research.

The less affluent, technology-shy mainstream consumer now accounts for about 40% of online shoppers, changing the dynamics of a customer base once dominated by wealthy, more experienced consumers, Forrester said. These new online consumers-who have been buying online for four years or less-spend less online, and are less likely to have a college degree or broadband at home.

In addition, online shoppers overall are concerned about credit card security. Only 31% of consumers who have been shopping online for less than two years agree that when shopping online, their credit card information is very secure, the study said. “That number rises to 37% for experienced web buyers, but as a group, these buyers are less confident than they were last year,” according to Forrester said, noting that at the end of 2004, 46% of experienced web buyers felt the same way.

“Between security concerns, shipping costs, and the inability to touch and feel an item, consumers overwhelmingly still feel that stores are a more satisfactory channel in which to make a purchase,” Forrester said. “A paltry 26% reported satisfaction with their experiences completing transactions online, while an incredible 70% reported satisfaction with their offline buying experience.”

To deal with these changes in attitude of online shoppers, retailers need to make critical channel links that will help drive online sales. “Many retailers, for example, still don’t accept gift cards across channels, a quick way to wow buyers and introduce security-conscious new shoppers to the web,” Forrester said.

Topics:

Information technology management, marketing, Online retailers, Online shopping, Shopping

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