Consumers turning to online comparison sites

A new report reveals consumers regard comparison sites as the most useful format for online shopping, ahead of search engines, online marketplaces and retailer websites.


Comparison shopping site Getprice has released its 2011 Shopping Report, identifying the online shopping habits and behaviours of more than 3,000 customers who visit the site.


According to the report, 99% of consumers shop online and 96% research products online. Getprice chief executive Chris Hitchen says 2011 promises to be a year of “immense change and growth” for the sector.


“Looking at the appetite for online shopping reflected in this report, we’re confident online retail will only go from strength to strength in the year ahead,” Hitchen says.


“At Getprice, we are seeing retailers realise the benefits of using the online channel to reach consumers. Late last year, we signed our 1,000th retailer.”


“Still, while large multichannel retailers like Rebel Sport, David Jones, Big W and Dan Murphy’s have launched eCommerce operations this year, the industry is still in its infancy.”


The report reveals one in six consumers either researches or shops for products online at least once a day, mainly for value and convenience.


Just under half of online consumers access the internet on their mobiles. Of those who do use their mobiles, most do so to stay connected to their social media profiles, with online shopping the third most popular mobile internet activity.


Only one in five actually interact with their favourite brands via social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.


While price is an important factor for consumers, customer service levels and product reputation are the ultimate drivers in a consumer’s purchase.


However, brand familiarity and user reviews are also important types of information in the decision-making process when researching or shopping online.


The report reveals 64% of online consumers are female, while 53% are aged over 40.


The categories shoppers are more likely to purchase online than offline are books and DVDs, kids’ toys, gifts, wine, and travel and accessories.


The categories they are more likely to purchase offline than online are cars, auto accessories, clothing and fashion, home and garden, and office furniture and supplies.


According to the report, there are a number of barriers to consumers purchasing products and services online. The main reason is because people prefer to touch, feel and see a product prior to purchasing it.


Hitchen says there is a great opportunity for retailers to improve or establish online marketing channels to attract consumers.


“Consumers will be loyal if you deliver strong customer service and are relevant and valuable throughout the shopping process,” Hitchen says.


“That means connecting more effectively with shoppers on social media sites, your own website and mobile applications.”


“There was a clear discrepancy in how consumers view these channels compared to how useful they find them during their shopping experience.”


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