The Internet is playing an increasingly important role in CE retailing through both direct sales and consumer research, and the trend is expected to continue into the holiday shopping season.
According to a recent survey conducted by BIGresearch for the Washington D.C.-based National Retail Federation (NRF), more people research CE products online before purchasing them in stores than any other consumer product category. Specifically, nearly 40 percent of shoppers who bought a CE product in a store between August and October first researched their purchase online. Nearly 20 percent of respondents similarly said that they researched their major appliance purchases on the Internet.
Overall, 88.7 percent of survey respondents said that they regularly or occasionally look at products online before buying in a store. What’s more, nearly half of consumers, 47.1 percent, said they plan to make at least one holiday purchase online this year, up from 36 percent three years ago.
Separately, Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research projects that U.S. online retail sales will reach $27 billion this holiday season, a 23 percent increase over last year. Of the 4,000 consumers it surveyed, Forrester found that almost one-fifth plan to do most of their holiday shopping online.
Pessimism toward online shopping was largely attributed to consumer concerns about product fulfillment and returns. Forrester found that 15 percent of consumers said they received orders late last year and 27 percent said they prefer to not buy online due to the inconvenience of the return process.