February 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

Comforts of home

Online shoppers prefer e-retail sites to stores.

Most online consumers enjoy shopping the web via a computer more than going to a store, according to a study of 1,035 online consumers last fall by research and advisory firm The E-Tailing Group Inc. With respondents free to name more than one channel, 68% said the web offers an excellent or very good shopping experience, compared to 45% who cited stores and 15%, mobile commerce. What leads them to buy? Free shipping and returns, consumers say. The web site features they view as important include good product images, alternate views, color swatches, zoom and ratings and reviews. Search engine results are most likely to drive consumers to retail sites, respondents say, as are retailersÕ e-mails, consumer reviews and group-buying deals, such as from Groupon and LivingSocial.

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