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.

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