Time and money savings are among the reasons consumers give for shifting more of their spending to the Internet. Although 45 percent of consumers said they plan to cut spending this year, 22 percent said they plan to buy more on the Internet, according to an Ouch Point survey from Opinion Research Corp.
Consumers say it's easier to find items and bargains online, but frustrations remain. More than three quarters, 77 percent of respondents said the economic situation has changed the way they shop, with 45 percent of them spending less, 24 percent looking for the best deal, and 24 percent only shopping for necessities. Nonetheless, 22 percent of those surveyed said they will spend more this year on the Internet.
In addition, 36 percent said the web accounted for a larger share of their purchases last year. When asked the primary reason for shifting their buying to the web, they cited ease of locating items, according to 25 percent of respondents; better discounts cited by 19 percent; time savings by 14 percent, and convenience by 13 percent.
"While our data indicates that people are spending less, it is equally clear that shoppers are increasingly turning to the Internet as the channel of choice when they do buy," said Linda Shea, SVP and global managing director of the customer strategies practice at Opinion Research, a subsidiary of research and marketing firm infoGroup.
"This underscores the need for merchants to realize that even in a self service environment, customers need enough information to make a purchase decision and validate that they are making the right decision. In the end," she said, "this drives revenue and minimizes returns for merchants, while at the same time entices customers to return to the site and to recommend it to others."
Despite the ongoing shift of purchasing to the web, consumers still have complaints. Here are the top frustrations with online shopping mentioned by those responding to the survey, with the percentage of respondents citing each one in 2009 and 2008, respectively:
- Not being able to speak to anyone who can answer questions: 25 percent, 21 percent.
- Learning that items are back ordered or out of stock after they are in the shopping cart: 11 percent, 17 percent.
- Receiving an item that doesn't look anything like it did on the Internet: 11 percent, 21 percent.
- Websites that malfunction as the payment is being processed: nine percent, 14 percent.
- Not being able to find an item: eight percent, 13 percent.
- Unclear shipping information: five percent, five percent.
- An uncertain return policy: five percent, seven percent.
- Not receiving an acknowledgement after an order has been placed: two percent, five percent.
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