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RealTime IT News

Report: Women Catching Men In First-Time Online Purchases

New data from the BizRate.com Consumer Fulfillment Index (CFI) reveal a more savvy and sophisticated online shopper, and confirmation that females are increasingly shopping online.

The index, which represents trend data culled from hundreds of thousands of consumer surveys continuously gathered at the point-of-purchase by BizRate.com between June 1997 and January 1999, strongly points to the overall maturation of the e-commerce experience, the company said.

The index data compares a customer's expectations against the actual service they received and evaluates their responses in terms of five pre-sale and five post-sale attributes, such as ease of ordering, Web site navigation and looks and on-time delivery. The resulting index is referred to as the BizRate.com Consumer Fulfillment Index (CFI).

"The trend we're seeing is of an e-commerce marketplace that is maturing," said Farhad Mohit, BizRate.com's founder, president and chief executive officer. "Merchant performance used to surpass customer expectations, but that difference is diminishing as customer expectations rise."

"In order to meet these expectations, Internet retailers will have to increase their responsiveness and attention to customer service, improve the speed of their deliveries, and, in general, offer a greater and more diverse selection of products and offerings to remain competitive," he said.

The CFI data also revealed that, on average, first-time buyers were more pleased with their online purchases than experienced buyers. These findings indicate that, as more people continue to shop online, their expectations of online vendors will rise.

Further segmentation of the CFI data shows that satisfaction levels from the overall base of online customers have declined during the past year for both first time and experienced Internet shoppers. However, on average, females tended to be more pleased with their online activity than males, although both males and females showed a drop in their CFI scores compared to January 1998.

BizRate.com found that males comprised 66 percent of all online purchasers and that experienced buyers represented 88 percent of the respondents. The CFI data further concluded that while females represent only 34 percent of all Internet shoppers, they account for 47 percent of first-time Internet shoppers.

"What's important to remember is that even among first-time buyers, satisfaction levels are declining. As e-commerce moves forward, it will be increasingly important for online merchants to replicate the convenience, selection and experience of shopping at traditional brick and mortar stores to keep the customers they've earned," Mohit said.



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