RealTime IT News

Study: E-Commerce Suffers Slight Setback

According to a study released Monday, online purchasing and window shopping each dropped by 3 percentage points in the first quarter and most items in virtual shopping baskets also declined during the spring.

Greenfield Online Inc. reported that the e-shopping drop was the first in its history of quarterly tracking studies of e-commerce. The company's previous research boasted four consecutive quarters of e-commerce surges.

Only one e-commerce sector, online auctions, showed a gain, climbing from 40 to 43 percent March to May.

Online Activity Over a 90-day Period Prior to the Survey

May 1999Mar. 1999Nov. 98Aug. 98April 98
Shopped Online83%86%82%80%62%
Bought Online71%74%65%63%47%

"Because the Internet is an entirely new distribution channel, we cannot be certain of all the reasons for the slight decline this spring," said Brin Bell, Greenfield Online's vice president of business development.

However the study did provide some good news for e-tailers, such as a gain in the percentage of online consumers making multiple purchases. In addition, 95 percent of e-consumers also said they expect to buy the same amount or more in future online purchases and for the first time, CDs beat out books as the number one e-buy.

The top five online purchases tracked by the survey in May versus the previous quarter were: CDs: 22 percent, May 1999 vs. 24 percent, March 1999; books: 21 percent vs. 26 percent; computer software: 19 percent vs. 21 percent; computer hardware: 13 percent vs.14 percent; airline tickets: 10 percent vs. 11 percent.

The Digital Consumer Shopping Index was conducted in late May and used 2,598 responses from the nationwide Greenfield Online research panel of more than a million people. This is the fifth fielding of the quarterly study allowing a full year of comparisons, and respondents in the study were likely to be slightly more experienced Internet users, although all levels are represented, the company said.