RealTime IT News

Report: Online Merchants Too Optimistic

A new industry report says that many online merchants are overly optimistic about consumer spending plans for the back-to-school season.

The BizRate.com survey reveals significant gaps between online consumers' spending plans and e-merchants' expectations. The survey results show that for the back-to-school season, online buyers estimate they will spend $188 on average whereas online merchants expect them to spend $291.

Other findings showed that:

  • Online consumers state that 51 percent of fathers and 49 percent of mothers will be purchasing school supplies over the Internet. Merchants, on the other hand, predict mothers (45%) will make more online purchases than fathers (7%).

  • 48 percent of online buyers plan to make at least one back-to-school purchase online.

  • 60 percent of online consumers say they will only shop at brick-and-mortar stores when shopping for apparel, while only 21 percent of retailers believe that will happen.

  • Merchants expect online buyers to spend $742 on average for computer hardware, while online customers anticipate spending only $353 per household.

  • Online buyers plan on spending $233 on average for apparel, while merchants anticipate them spending $338 on average.

When asked about online shopping incentives, merchants and online buyers agreed that free shipping and handling is the best incentive to make online back-to-school purchases this season. When asked about the second most popular incentive, consumers cited instant product discounts and retailers cited rebates.

"If it's true that the customer is always right, then online retailers need to know more about their customers' opinions," said Farhad Mohit, president and CEO of BizRate.com. This BizRate.com survey was conducted in a single day with responses from 3,866 online buyers and 58 online merchants.

BizRate.com collects direct customer feedback and transactional information at the point-of-purchase. As an impartial third party, BizRate.com evaluates e-commerce activity across the Web by soliciting information from online buyers; it also provides merchant ratings and information to help shoppers.