Study: Satisfied Net Surfers Turning into Buyers

Despite the flood of dot-com failures, more browsers are turning into buyers for e-commerce, according to a study released Tuesday byInternet research firm GreenfieldOnline.

The report found that 72 percent of U.S. online consumers made at least one purchase via the Web during the fourth quarter of 2000, marking the 10th consecutive quarter in which more than 60 percent of Internet users made at least one online purchase.

The “strong penetration level” should serve as a “reality check” for those who engage in relentless negative coverage about online retailing, Greenfield spokesperson Gail Janensch told the E-Commerce Times.

“It’s a great antidote to a lot of the pessimism that we’re all hearing,”said Janensch. “It’s also a tremendous indication of e-commerce as a retailmedium.”

Added Janensch: “A year ago when e-commerce was riding high it could do nowrong. Now, a year later we’re hearing that this is all hype. But when youhave a trend line over 10 quarters that to me says it is not hype atall.”

The 72 percent figure also topped the year-earlier quarter, when 69 percent of consumers made at least one purchase online.

Net Ads

Although the Internet advertising industry has been weathering a downturn in recent months, Greenfield found that 64 percent of those whohave “window shopped” for products online during the fourth quarter saidthey read Internet ads while surfing.

Moreover, the report said that a third of users click on the ads they see, a significant number, according to Janensch.

Big Sellers

Books and compact discs remained the top two purchase categories duringthe second half of 2000. For the fourth quarter, 35 percent of onlineconsumers said they completed an e-tail transaction in these categories.

Clothing was the next most popular category, with 16 percent of respondents saying that they purchased apparel during the fourth quarter of 2000. The toysand games category came in fourth, and computer software came in fifth.

Riding High

Although airline tickets fell from the fourth to sixth most purchased item online forthe quarter, Janensch said that travel is the fourth most researched category, underscoring the strength of the sector.

A separate study released this week by Nielsen//Net Ratings andHarris Interactive found that online travelsites racked up US$1.2 billion in sales in January, accounting fornearly a third of all e-commerce transactions for the month.

In addition, that report found that Net travel was the only consumer-oriented sectorthat did not see a decline from holiday levels. Online travel sites alsostimulated another $681 million in offline revenue in January, the research firms said.

Slicing the Pie

Greenfield found that women slightlyoutpurchased men online for the third consecutive quarter, 73 percentto 71 percent.

The report also concluded that those with household incomes of $50,000and above are more likely to participate in e-shopping activities (81 percent) than consumers with household incomes under $50,000 (64percent).

To compile data for its Digital Consumer Shopping Index, Greenfield Onlinesurveyed almost 4,000 U.S. online users about their attitudes towarde-commerce issues.

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