E-Tailing Giants Grab Lion’s Share

American consumers spent an estimated $6.2 billion online this past holiday
season, but most people (87 percent of shoppers) tended to confine their
shopping to a maximum of three different retailers’ sites, meaning that the
big dogs of e-tailing got the lion’s share of the pie.


The report from e-consulting and research firm Gartner Group Inc.
found that Amazon.com was the most dominant purchasing site, with 28 percent
of all buyers purchasing at least some gifts there.


“Consumers don’t yet see the Web the same way they see a shopping mall, as a
place to stroll, browse and window shop in search of gifts,” said David
Schehr, research director for Gartner’s e-Business Services group.


“Consumers
continue to show that they use sites they are already familiar with, and in
most cases for only those things they’ve come to expect at the sites. Other
research we’ve completed shows that consumers don’t usually think of the
sites they use as
one-stop shopping locations, but more as specialty stores for selected
categories.”


Gartner’s survey showed that nearly 25 million American consumers bought
gifts online this past holiday season.


However, the idea of shopping at a “cybermall” was not particularly prevalent
in the survey results. When asked, 70 percent of online gift buyers responded
that they generally had a particular item or product in mind when they went
online to buy.


Only 22 percent of online gift buyers said that they generally browsed a
variety of sources without a specific item in mind.


Meanwhile, another survey, this one from Cognitiative Inc. and Greenfield
Online, found that 92 percent of all online consumers actually shopped online
this holiday season and of the consumers who shopped online, 84 percent also
bought online.


Overall, the expectations of holiday shoppers were met among 70 percent of
online
shoppers and exceeded among 23 percent. Close to 50 percent reported spending
more online this year than last, and 55 percent of consumers predict their
online shopping will increase in 2001.


Greatest online purchase growth came from experienced online shoppers, rather
than consumers who were new to the Web, as first-time shoppers represented
only 12 percent of online buyers and an even smaller percentage among the big
spenders, the survey found.


“The experienced shopper bought a larger proportion of their purchases online
this year than ever before,” said Laurie Windham, founder and CEO of
Cognitiative Inc. “And the highest volume purchaser was the happiest
customer. The implications are significant to Web sites as they develop
customer acquisition and retention programs. The customer who buys the most
is the experienced and satisfied online buyer.”


That survey’s finding regarding the “range” of shopping sites resembled the
Gartner study, showing 52 percent of shoppers bought from only two to four
sites.

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