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NPD: Consumers Balk At Buying Traditional CE Online

Port Washington, N.Y. – Even as the incidence of web-shopping
increases, many U.S. consumers remain reluctant to purchase certain consumer
electronics products online, according to a new report from The NPD Group.

Even after using the web to find out more about those
products NPD’s “E-commerce and Consumer Electronics: Online Shopping &
Purchasing” report reveals that televisions are the fourth most-likely item
that consumers research online prior to purchasing (56 percent). However, it’s
the least likely electronics product that consumers would actually purchase
online (19 percent).

Smartphones also showed a much higher level of research vs.
buying online: while 52 percent of consumers would seek out information about
smartphones on the web, just 23 percent could imagine themselves going online
to purchase one. In contrast more people (66 percent) do both their research
(66 percent) and expect to make an actual purchase (34 percent) online for PCs
then for any other CE device.

“It’s not surprising to see that so many consumers won’t buy
TVs, smartphones, and other popular CE products online, despite using the
Internet to perform basic product research,” said Stephen Baker, industry
analysis VP for NPD. “Computers and other IT products have a much longer
history online with a wider variety of outlets, including direct sales from
manufacturers, for consumers to choose from.”

Top consumer electronics products consumers were “extremely”
or “very likely” to purchase online, included the following: computer
software,  computers 34 percent; e-readers,
 32 percent; digital cameras, computer
accessories/peripherals, 30 percent; tablets, 29 percent; printers,  24 percent; Smartphone/mobile phones, 23
percent; camcorders, Blu-ray players, 21 percent; home audio, 20 percent; and
TVs, 19 percent.

“Part of consumers’ unwillingness to purchase certain
electronics online might be due to a lack of awareness, or as a result of the
slow pace taken by many traditional CE companies establishing a
direct-to-consumer buying presence on the web, or it could be something
inherent in the products themselves, such as price or complexity,” Baker said.

According to Baker, “retailers continue to have an edge with
consumers, when they can leverage their physical storefronts with a strong
online presence.” In fact more than three-quarters (76 percent) of all
consumers said they have used a retailer’s website to research a potential
purchase, compared with just 62 percent for manufacturer-direct shoppers and 65
percent for online-only shoppers.

Reinforcing consumers comfort with a multichannel approach
to gathering information, NPD’s data shows that using retailers’ stores and websites
are among the top five activities consumers do first, when they begin to
consider purchasing consumer electronics.

Information in NPD’s “E-commerce and Consumer Electronics:
Online Shopping & Purchasing” report is based on online surveys fielded in
June 2011 to a representative sample of 1,326 panelists from NPD’s online
panel. Results were balanced to represent the U.S. adult population.