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Survey: Web Sites Drive Consumers to Stores

Not-so-hot news for e-commerce companies: The Internet is currently a better driver of off-line shopping than online, says a new industry study from Harris Interactive.

In what the company called the largest online study of business-to-consumer purchasing trends conducted to date, the benchmark ecommercePulse survey found that Internet shoppers are spending far more money off-line when they browse for specific products online.

The quarterly study of more than 103,000 online respondents found that "online shoppers" -- defined as individuals who used the Internet to gather information on specific products in the past month -- still were spending four to nine times as much off-line as online on the product for which they used the Internet to shop.

For example, for every dollar spent online, toy shoppers spent $9.01 off-line; apparel shoppers $4.41 and computer hardware shoppers $2.69. Only book shoppers spend more online, averaging only 68 cents off-line for every dollar spent online.

"This. . .survey dramatically demonstrates that the Internet is still used more for shopping than buying. As a result, to fully understand e-commerce you must track the online marketplace's direct impact on off-line purchasing behavior," said Gordon S. Black, CEO of Harris Interactive. "ecommercePulse goes beyond counting eyeballs to separating buyers from browsers -- the only true way of measuring ROI and e-commerce on the Internet."

ecommercePulse rated the satisfaction of Web shoppers who seriously considered buying products from more than 180 e-retail sites. iQVC was the leader in four of 11 categories covered: clothing, electronics, health/beauty and toys. Other winners were eBay (Auctions); Amazon and Books-a-Million (Books - tie); Apple and Dell (Computer Hardware - tie); ZD Net, Parsons and Maczone (Computer Software - tie); DVD Express, Amazon and CDNOW (Music/Video - tie); TravelZoo (General Travel); Airtran, Southwest and Continental (Airline Travel - tie); and Mothernature.com tied with iQVC (Health/Beauty).

"While bells and whistles may entertain 27-year-old MBA equity analysts, online consumers seem to love an iQVC that consistently meets and surpasses their expectations," said Ben Black, Harris Interactive director of business development.

"ecommercePulse demonstrates once again that consumers will determine the winners in the Internet Revolution, not technology. It's not the well-engineered sites with stunning content, nor is it the VC-touted new business models that receives high praise from the consumer, it's the sites that add value to the consumers' experience."

Designed as an annual subscription service for Web marketers and retailers, financial analysts and advertisers, media and financial analysts, Harris Interactive will update ecommercePulse quarterly. Pricing starts at $5,500 for the first wave of the survey.