RealTime IT News

Brand Names Don't Stick with Online Shoppers

An upcoming interactive survey of online shoppers signals disappointing news for e-tailers: 40 percent of shoppers could not name an online retailer in 12 out of 13 e-tail categories.

The poll results will be published Tuesday in a Harris Interactive report, ecommercePulse. The study of business-to-consumer purchasing trends is based on interviews with 103,127 e-consumers over a 19-day period. Results include competitive performance tracking of over 180 e-tailers in 11 product sectors.

"Consumers, not technology, will determine the winners in the Internet revolution," Ben Black, director of business at Harris Interactive said in a ZDNet column. "The results demonstrate that the consumer is king, with technology its humble servant."

The clear winner garnering the most consumer recognition comes from an older medium: television. iQVC scored the highest overall customer satisfaction ratings among online customers in four out of 11 product categories, including clothing, electronics, health/beauty and toys. The company also achieved the highest score in the entire study, with an 8.76 (out of 10) score in the toy category.

"iQVC's ratings show that today's online marketers would do well to focus less on the latest and greatest e-commerce technology," Black said.

Another winner emerged from an offline brand, Avon, which took first place in the most recognized Web site in the health/beauty segment. In the clothing division, The Gap won as most recognized brand, with Lands End in second place. Among the online losers: the insurance and fitness categories, in which no Web site could be named by shoppers.

Not surprisingly, e-tailing king Amazon was the most recognized brand in the book category, showing it is twice as recognized among shoppers than arch rival barnesandnoble.com. eBay headed the brand list among auction sites, while Microsoft/Egghead was most recognized brand in the computer software sector.

Echoing another recent study, the poll showed that online shoppers may look, but don't follow through on purchasing via the Net. According to Black, more than 90 percent of Web surfers checked out e-tail offerings, but only 18 percent of them actually made purchases.

Black acknowledged that Web branding is in the very early stage, but suggested that online recognition, emerging from the interactive sea of e-tailers and getting shoppers to complete transactions is possible.

"The secret to keeping online consumers happy seems to be providing everyday products at low but profitable prices and building excellent distribution and customer service infrastructures. Nothing sexy here, just a model that has worked since Sears sent out its first catalog," Black said.