You Better Shop Around
Aggregator sites are getting a tighter grip as preferred ways to shop compared with their merchant site competitors, according to a survey conducted by BizRate Research, a division of Shopzilla.
In fact, according to "The Online Shopper Deal Shopping and Value Panel Study," based on the responses of 923 online buyers from February 22 to 28, 2005, 59 percent of consumers begin their shopping at aggregator sites, including search engines, comparison-shopping sites, shopping portals, and auction sites. That is a 13 percentage point boost from the company's 2002 data of 46 percent, and a 5 percentage point jump from its March 2004 installment. "The trend has been marching down toward more people go to the aggregators," says Chuck Davis, president and CEO of Shopzilla. "[Consumers] love it when all of the merchants are aggregated together so that they can see prices and quality measures all matched up in one simple place. Consumers want to save time and money, and the best way to do it is by starting with an aggregator."
While 87 percent of online shoppers weigh the offerings of online retailers against catalog merchants and retail stores to track down the best deals on in-stock selections, 71 report finding better sales and discounts online instead of offline. Internet shoppers visit an average of four online retailers before selecting which site to buy from, while 94 percent actively compare prices, and then visit their chosen site an average of 2.6 more times before proceeding to checkout. "The time it takes to look at four stores online, you would just be getting out of your car at a mall to go to the first store before you compare three other offline stores," Davis says.
Additional findings indicate that 70 percent report comparing prices every or most of the time that they surf the Web for their purchases, but the majority of respondents, 64 percent, opt to do their comparison shopping by clicking through multiple sites to locate the best value. For bargain-savvy customers searching to uncover bargain-basement prices, 74 percent of respondents noted that the leading offer that drives them to make a purchase is receiving a free shipping deal. Only 36 percent search for deals by registering for sale newsletters, and less than a quarter, 22 percent, simply just wait for sales. Forty-three percent will not pay more from a retailer they like if they can get their desired item for less somewhere else. Thirty-four percent responded that when shopping they buy from the same brand most of time, 62 percent admitted returning to the same brand some of the time, and a mere 1 percent reported purchasing their preferred brands always.
Although Shopzilla itself is an aggregator site, the migration of more customers from offline channels to online sites is making headway in other industries. According to a recent study conducted by Forbes.com and ForeSee Results, the use of online banking channels is also surging.
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