Big ticket items, such as home appliances, have been among the products to be least purchased online. However, according to a new report from Forrester Research Inc., that trend is about to change, as experienced web shoppers move beyond books and movies to buy more categories online. As the longest tenured web shoppers grow more comfortable online, they're moving into spending on a broader range of categories, according to "How Shoppers Evolve Online," by Forrester principal analyst, Sucharita Mulpuru.
The report notes that the buying behavior of shoppers who have been purchasing online for seven years or longer has evolved over that time. While they initially confined purchases to media and travel, and these categories remain entry points to the channel for new web shoppers, more experienced web shoppers start buying in additional categories such as toys, jewelry and sporting goods after a few years.
The Forrester report notes that web shoppers with the longest online tenure are becoming more comfortable with buying in the retail categories least penetrated online, but which consist of the largest offline. These categories include food and autos, as companies such as FreshDirect.com and CarsDirect.com refine their delivery models. "This gradually provides an opportunity for the last unpenetrated frontier of online retail," Mulpuru said.
According to the report, the longest tenured online shoppers use the web to do more research online than other shoppers, expand the number of categories they'll buy online over time, and spend significantly more online. To line up the opportunity in less penetrated online sales categories with the habits of experienced web shoppers having the greatest potential to be customers, Forrester advises eRetailers to stay focused on the customer experience as an imperative, and measure customer behavior across channels whenever possible, to synergize operations and gain customer data.
Forrester analysts also encourage durable goods and consumer packaged goods manufacturers to create compelling sites with clear paths to purchase on their own site, or at retailer partner sites. Finally, Forrester advises web retailers to prepare for mobile commerce, noting that the growth curve in mobile will likely follow that of online shopping.
"This implies that media and travel will likely experience the most traction online initially, but should soon be followed by other, more tactile categories, such as home products, jewelry and appliances," Mulpuru concluded.
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