RealTime IT News

Survey: Shoppers, Sellers See Things Differently

Consumers are planning to start their holiday online shopping much earlier than merchants anticipated, according to a new industry survey.

The report from affiliate marketing company LinkShare Corp. and BizRate.com says that 28 percent of the more than 3,800 consumers polled plan to begin browsing online for holiday gifts before October and almost half plan to shop online before November.

That response differs greatly from the expectations of the nearly 100 online merchants polled, who said they thought that only 9 percent of consumers would start shopping three months or more before the holidays.

The online survey, which posed questions to thousands of online buyers per day at the point-of-purchase, revealed other discrepancies between the attitudes and expectations of online buyers and online merchants.

Nearly one-third (31 percent) of the merchants surveyed believe that guaranteed on-time delivery would be the incentive most likely to make a consumer buy a product online this holiday season. But less than 10 percent of consumers who responded agreed; free shipping and handling was the leading incentive for almost half (48 percent) of the consumers surveyed to make a purchase online, with product discounts driving purchases for 22 percent.

Only one-third of the merchants surveyed believed free shipping and handling would be the key incentive for consumers to buy online, while only 13 percent of the merchants believed the same about product discounts.

LinkShare is a provider of partnership-based marketing programs on the Web. BizRate.com, a provider of customer feedback to merchants on the Web, conducted the survey online from June 2-4.

"This survey demonstrates that merchants on the Web will need to be both nimble and flexible to meet unexpected challenges posed by e-commerce," said LinkShare Chairman Stephen Messer.

"The discrepancies between the views of online buyers and e-retailers clearly indicate the need for merchants to have better access to information about what their customers are thinking when they buy online," said Farhad Mohit, president and CEO of Los Angeles-based BizRate.com.