RealTime IT News

Study: E-Commerce Fastest-Growing Online Activity

"Making purchases" has emerged as the fastest-growing online activity, according to a study released by America Online and marketing research firm Roper Starch Worldwide.

In fact, the study found that e-commerce is becoming central to the Internet consumer experience.

The study is the second annual America Online/Roper Starch Cyberstudy, a sample of approximately 1,000 adult Americans.

The 1999 Cyberstudy found that shopping scored the most dramatic climb among Internet activities.

Forty-two percent of Internet consumers say they regularly or occasionally make a purchase online, compared to 31 percent in the 1998 study.

That increase was fueled in part by 54 percent more women -- 37 percent compared to 24 percent in 1998 -- shopping online this year.

The 1999 study found that Internet users connected three years or longer engage in more everyday activities online than newcomers, those online one year or less.

These include getting information about and buying products, checking local entertainment information, booking travel, communicating with business associates, trading stock, tracking portfolios and banking online.

This year's survey also demonstrates that Internet consumers are becoming more mainstream as more older Americans and people of more moderate incomes and educational backgrounds went online over the past year.

Even with this gradual demographic shift, however, online consumers remain decidedly more affluent and educated than the population at large. And, just as in 1998, more women (55 percent) than men (45 percent) this year were new to the interactive experience.

One of the clearest trends identified in the 1999 Cyberstudy is that the longer Internet users spend online, the more central the medium becomes to their everyday lives.

Those online more than three years, for example, report spending an average of 10.5 hours per week online, compared to 6.6 hours for newcomers.