eMarketer Comes to Defense of eCommerce

A day after this NY Times story appeared on local shopping, eMarketer’s newsletter today is about multi-channel shopping. It cites a Media-Screen study about online shopping behavior. According to the eMarketer summary . . .

Here are the channel influences on shopping:

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And here’s where the buying ultimately takes place (among broaband Internet users):

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Here’s the interesting commentary:

Yet the sky is hardly falling on retail e-commerce. Think back to 2000, when snafus at eToys and other sites had customers waiting long after the holidays for gifts ordered in November. Nowadays, the worst that customers typically see is a 15-minute outage.

eMarketer senior analyst and retail e-commerce specialist Jeffrey Grau notes that even when sites have error-free operation, there are a number of reasons for going to the store for the actual purchase.

“Buying at the store gives consumers instant gratification,” said Mr. Grau. “They also can inspect the product in person. Many people dismiss the cost of gas and other expenses involved in getting to the store, and think of it as a way to save on shipping.

“The influence of the online channel goes way beyond e-commerce sales,” continued Mr. Grau. “Giving consumers the ability to research purchases from home is certainly more powerful than just online sales figures would indicate.”

Much of this commentary is accurate but the emphasis is interesting, minimizing the reasons for offline shopping. Yet the Internet’s biggest booster of e-commerce, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, once famously remarked, “We still believe that some 15 percent of retail commerce may ultimately move online.”

As eMarketer’s Grau says the Internet is “certainly more powerful than just online sales figures would indicate.” Yes but e-commerce, as big and powerful as it is, is flattening and “maturing.” Growth will come in trying to built out local inventory data and tie online information to offline stores.

Shopping behavior is becoming more complex but local shopping will dominate, with greater and greater Internet influence, well into the foreseeable future.

Here’s some alternative 2006 data, from MORI research for the NAA, about Internet influences on shopping (whether local or online):

Shopping sites


Here’s a related story in MediaPost about the effectiveness of in-store/in-mall advertising.


One Response to “eMarketer Comes to Defense of eCommerce”

  1. Trendy Shopping Says:

    Good information for emarketing.

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