August 30, 2002, 12:00 AM

Why European shoppers often buy offline after researching online

While the number of shoppers to European retail web sites rose dramatically in the second half of last year, many consumers prefer to buy in stores so they can see and touch products, says Forrester Europe.

While the number of visitors to leading retail web sites in Europe has risen steadily, 18-29% of online shoppers, depending on the country they are in, only research products on the web and then go to a store to make a purchase. The reason they cite most for going to a store: They prefer to see and touch something before they buy it, says a new report from Forrester Europe.

The study, conducted by Forrester Research Inc.’s office in Amsterdam, notes that the average number of monthly visitors to the top 10 sites in France, Germany and the United Kingdom rose to about 1.2 million by the end of 2001, up from under 700,000 visitors in Germany and the UK six months earlier. The increase was sharpest in France, where the average number of monthly visitors during that six-month period rose from under 400,000.

But 18% of the online shoppers in France went offline to make a purchase, while Germany saw a 24% online defector rate, and the UK, 29%.

When the defectors were asked why they prefer to purchase offline, the most common answer was that they "wanted to see/touch the product" (48% in France, 64% in Germany, 58% in the UK).

Other reasons cited:
--Didn’t want to wait for delivery (22% France; 25% Germany; 38% UK)
--Cost of shipping was too high (30% France; 43% Germany; 31% UK)
--Need more information (32% France; 27% Germany; 23% UK).

 

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