February 3, 2003, 12:00 AM

While still dominant, price slips as a reason shoppers buy online

Better selection rises as a factor in shoppers’ decisions to buy online vs. retail, even outdoing speed and convenience, says the annual shopping survey from DoubleClick. Once again, triple-channel shoppers spent the most.

Price is declining in importance as a driver of online sales, according to preliminary data from DoubleClick Inc.’s holiday shopping survey.

While price remained the primary reason shoppers browsed in retail stores and then purchased online, it decreased from 2001 levels, cited by 80% of shoppers polled by DoubleClick in 2002, down from 89% in 2001. At the same time, the availability of a better selection online was cited more frequently than in the previous year as a reason shoppers bought online after browsing retail stores, up to 60% of those polled in 2001 from 48% in 2001. Selection online was cited more frequently than both speed and 24-hour availability as a reason shoppers switched to the online channel from stores.

Shoppers increased their use of the web during the past holiday season, with 64% of those polled reporting they’d used the Internet for holiday shopping or browsing, up from 61% last year. Usage of the store channel slipped to 87% from 92% in 2001. 10% of consumers polled did all their holiday shopping on the web, up from 6% in 2001, while those who shopped exclusively in stores dropped to 33% in 2002 from 35% in 2001.

A total of 43%of multi-channel shoppers spent more money online last year than in 2001, while 28% said they spent the same amount. Use of the online channel is expected to continue to rise, with 59% of those polled saying they intended to browse more and 45% to buy more online in 2003.

The number of shoppers browsing and buying across multiple channels actually dropped in 2002, to 56% from 58% in 2001. Yet multi-channel shoppers–-defined as those who shopped either two or three channels--again spent more, 39% on average, than single- channel shoppers. Triple-channel shoppers who used the web, catalogs and stores spent an average 68% more.

Other findings highlighted patterns of integrated buying behavior among multi-channel shoppers online. Of those that purchased on the web, half input catalog codes and one-third e-mail promotional codes when shopping.

“The results underscore the degree to which consumers are buying and browsing a number of channels,” says Scott Knoll, general manager and vice president of marketer solutions at DoubleClick. “Marketers must carefully plan and manage their communication with consumers across channels, as well as put in place tools to measure results of that communication within and across channels.”


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