CEMA says that online sales of consumer electronics will reach $14 billion, or 13% of total industry volume, by 2002.
The projection, based on a survey of 2,725 wired households, was announced at CEMA's one-day conference, Retailing & the Internet, last week in Dallas.
Computer products are the most actively shopped CE category on the Internet, respondents indicated, with more than two-thirds having researched or purchased computer hardware, software or accessories online. Home office products were second, with 23% of those surveyed saying they used the Internet to help them make purchases.
Personal audio, color TV and car audio were the lowest-ranked categories, with the percentage of respondents shopping or purchasing those products online hovering in the single digits.
Interestingly, the rate of Internet shopping doubled among those who used the web in combination with brick-&-mortar stores to make a purchase, suggesting a synergy between the distribution channels. For example, the rate of online shopping for home audio rose from 10% to 19%, and the Internet buy rate more than doubled to 4%, when respondents used the Internet and traditional retail to make a purchase.
According to CEMA's Todd Thibodeaux, this synergy cuts both ways. While 34% of respondents have visited stores specifically to "see and learn about a product" only to later purchase the item online, about half of those surveyed said they used the Internet for research to make more informed buys in stores.
Keynote speaker Bob Pittman, president of America Online, pitched the interactive medium as the "next great consumer industry."