January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Online Shoppers want product information and the human connection

Further evidence that shoppers are cross-channel animals comes from a study released today by KPMG/Indiana University Kelley School of Business. The survey of 2,120 consumers conducted in June revels that 64% want to know the prices at the closest retail store as well as the price online; 82% prefer to use more than one channel to learn about new products, 77% to search for product information, 74% to compare and evaluate alternatives and 63% to purchase and pay for products. Other results: 57% of online shoppers want access to product specifications and warranty information, 57% feel that a web site should have expert ratings of product quality, 79% want toll-free telephone access to customer service, 63% want the option of placing an online order by calling a toll-free number, 59% would like the option of receiving merchandise through the mail or a store visit and 39% would like to be able to return products through both channels. "Consumers place greater emphasis on having detailed, objective product information when shopping online because they have no physical interaction with the product," says Raymond Burke, the E. W. Kelley Professor of Business Administration at Indiana University. "The fact that such a high percentage of online shoppers want toll-free access to customer service tells us that the ability to connect with a knowledgeable sales person, regardless of the channel shopped, is a key element of the ideal shopping experience.

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