November 3, 2005, 12:00 AM

Search plays key role on apparel shopping online and off, study finds

A survey by Yahoo and Compete finds that 20% of unique monthly visitors to apparel sites used search in the process. 78% who purchased apparel offline said online search influenced their purchases.


Search plays a key role in the apparel shopping process, a new study concludes, determining that 20% of 25 million unique monthly visitors to apparel sites tracked over a year used search in the process. In addition, the study by Yahoo and online market research firm Compete Inc. found search significantly influenced offline shopping, with 78% of those interviewed who purchased apparel offline reporting that online search had influenced their offline purchases.

“We set out to quantify exactly how search impacts consumers` apparel shopping behavior, both in their online as well as their offline purchasing,” says Gregory Saks, senior associate with Compete.

Compete and Yahoo followed unique monthly visitors engaging in apparel activity at the sties it tracked over one year, using Compete’s panel of 2 million Internet users. Compete also conducted a survey of over 400 apparel shoppers who used search, then visited one of the 49 apparel retailer or manufacturer sites tracked, and subsequently purchased offline. Of those who reported that online search had influenced their store visit and purchase, 47% also have purchased apparel online; and they spend 26% more on apparel than those who don’t use search.

Over a 60-day shopping period, apparel searchers also spent more than 30% more time when visiting retail sites than non-search visitors, and they were more likely to engage in site activities such as registering for e-mail or viewing shipping information. Apparel searchers also generated an average online conversion rate of 21%, compared with the 18% average conversion rate generated by non-search users.

The study also determined that consumers use search throughout all phases of the buying cycle. 21% of those surveyed reported using search to find out about new styles and brands, 27% said they used search to seek out sales and deals, and more than 50% used search to find a store address, phone number or web site.

“Consumers are using search for multiple objectives throughout their apparel shopping process,” says Diane Rinaldo, retail category director, Yahoo Search Marketing. “Search provides retail marketers a way to reach their customers in a comprehensive manner that allows them to effectively tie together their online and offline sales, enhance brand awareness and increase market share.”


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