March 29, 2010, 12:00 AM

Web leads stores as primary way online consumers research purchases

While 92% of consumers surveyed via the web say they research or browse products and services online, 84% research in stores, 78% via catalogs and 27% through mobile phones, says the survey commission by ATG.


Online consumers rely on searching web sites from their computers when researching purchases more than they rely on stores, catalogs or their mobile phones. However, 70% of consumers say they use two or more of those retail channels before making a purchase, says the survey commissioned by e-commerce technology provider Art Technology Group Inc.

92% of 1,054 U.S. consumers surveyed via the web late last year say they research or browse products and services online, while 84% say the same for stores, 78% for catalogs and 27% mobile phones.

Only 22% of consumers say they typically purchase after researching through just one channel, and 30% say they consult three to five channels before buying. “Merchants have heard the call for a stronger cross-channel strategy for many years, but what has been lacking is a deeper explanation about why this is so important,” says Nina McIntyre, ATG`s senior vice president of marketing and chief marketing officer. “We are seeing a multichannel revolution now, with a vast majority of consumers using multiple channels and now almost one-third actually relying on three or more channels to complete transactions.”

The fact that so many consumers go to stores after researching products first through the web or mobile phones highlights the need for better information and more innovation on e-retail sites, says the ATG report.

Among consumers who research online but buy through other channels 43% say they have called a customer service line because they couldn’t find all the information they needed online; 39% went to a store to touch and feel a product; 36% shopped a store to compare brands; 22% bought from a store because they needed the item immediately; 19% called because the online buying process was too complicated or they encountered an error; 19% wanted to ask about refunds or returns; and 15% said they called to ask about shipping options. Other findings from the study include:

  • Though 27% of all the consumers use mobile devices to browse or research products or services at least four times a year that jumps to 41% among consumers 18-34.
  • 24% say they incorporate social networks into their purchasing behavior, such as by notifying friends of items they have purchased.
  • Asked about how they would respond to a retailer’s e-mail promotion, 29% say they would redeem the discount, 15% ignore the offer, 54% consider whether the offer was relevant and if not browse the site for other products or services, 24% would think positively of the store even if not interested in the offer, 5% would think negatively of the retailer sending the offer.


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