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Study: New Net Buyers Tougher to Acquire

A new e-commerce study shows that those who have yet to make purchases online are still hesitant about such transactions, citing pricing, not payment security, as a primary concern.

The study from Jupiter Communications and NFO Interactive showed that 35% of the online population purchased a product or service in the last year and were very satisfied with their shopping experience. In fact, almost 95% of those buyers said they plan to shop online more in the future.

However, the remaining 65% of the online population, which can be segmented as "browsers" (those who visit commerce sites but did not make a purchase) and "non-shoppers" (those who neither browse nor shop online), were less likely to make an initial purchase soon.

In fact, 45% of browsers and 84% of non-shoppers said they were unlikely to begin buying online in the next year.

Interestingly, more than 77% of online browsers and 64% of non-shoppers said that greater discounts online will spark buying behavior. Indeed, among the browser population, lower prices emerged as the single most important "change driver" to spur purchasing.

"Aggressive pricing on select items will get customers in the door, and is a crucial step to help win the next phase of the customer acquisition battle," said Evan Cohen, group director of data research at Jupiter. "Vendors shouldn't slash prices across the board, but strategic discounting will help commerce players to convert non-buyers into online purchasers."

Still, consumers are increasingly relying on online information sources to drive their off-line purchases. In fact, consumers ranked "researching products and services" as the third most popular online activity, often looking at products that have historically not had strong sales success online, including cars (48.7%), housewares (36.2%), clothing (35.9%), and consumer electronics (35.8%).

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Jupiter/NFO study also found that online user demographics provide a rich environment for potential widespread online shopping. The demographics of the online population are more attractive than the national average in a variety of metrics.

Does this spell out a nation of online "haves" and off-line "have-nots?" It's hard to say how it will shake out, but the study found that 43.1% of current online U.S. households earn over $60,000 per year, while just 23.6% of total U.S. households earn more than that amount.

The Jupiter/NFO book-length study, "Defining The Internet Shopper: Attitudes, Objectives, And Behavior," is based on an extensive set of consumer surveys, including a broad survey of 50,000 online and off-line households and follow-up surveys of 3,000 online households and 2,500 online individual users.

The study contains profiles of online households and individual users; demographic attitudinal and characteristic data; commerce preferences; online activity behavior; use and satisfaction with technology, connection, download speeds, and access; and comparisons between online and off-line households.