The Web as a Portal for Physical Shopping
Even as online purchases reach an all-time high, it seems a substantial number of consumers are using the Internet primarily as a tool to research products that are later bought at retail stores. A recent survey by comScore Networks found that about 63 percent of search-related queries are followed by purchases at physical sites.
The most popular products to prompt investigative Web searches were video games and consoles. About 93 percent of consumers researched this kind of merchandise prior to purchase. The second-place category was toys and hobbies, with 88 percent of respondents checking these out on the Web before buying them.
Of the 80 million-plus people who search for items in study’s the eleven product categories (music, movies, video, computers, PDAs and so forth), 8.6 million self-described “intense” technology users actually bought their products online. They also performed more Web research, running approximately 10 times the number of searches that non-buyers did.
These findings aren’t especially surprising. Most people aren’t confident enough in the technology or their own technical capabilities to actually buy products online. They also have reservations about the security of these electronic transactions. And certain things that weren’t included in the study—like airline tickets—lend themselves to Web purchases more than others do.
What should e-commerce pros make of these numbers? Not much, really. Their sites are informing customers about the products and services their companies offer, even if those sites are not the point of sale. And all the money goes to the same place, right?