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Online U.S. Shoppers Browsing More Than Buying

3 Sep, 2014 By: Doug McPherson

NEW YORK – Americans like researching their purchases online (63 percent), looking up reviews (63 percent) and even find online shopping convenient (78 percent), but when it comes to buying online, well, they’re hesitant. So says a study from Nielsen.

Marketers will have better success finding actual buyers in the Asia-Pacific region, which has the highest online buy rates – China and South Korea are leaders in cosmetic products and groceries.

Western Europe leads the way in the consumer packaged goods E-commerce sector: Britain increased to $91 million in first-quarter 2014 from $70 million in the same period a year ago, while France jumped from $32 million to $42 million in the same time period.

But Americans are becoming more open to buying in certain online categories – airlines, electronic equipment, E-books, music and clothing/shoes – when compared to a similar study Nielsen conducted in 2011.

For airline reservations, 43 percent purchased in 2014 versus 19 percent in 2011; hotel/tours rose to 43 percent in 2014 versus 16 percent in 2013. Electronic equipment rose to 31 percent in 2014 versus 15 percent in 2011, and E-books climbed to 35 percent in 2014 versus 11 percent in 2011. In the music category, (non-download) purchases rose to 31 percent in 2014 versus 18 percent in 2011. Finally, purchases of clothing and shoes rose to 43 percent in 2014 versus 35 percent in 2011

Why are American shoppers hesitant? Some 46 percent say they don’t like to buy online because of shipping costs, and 37 percent of Americans say they don’t trust giving their credit card information online.

Nielsen says Americans prefer going to retailers to buy products, particularly for consumable products such as personal care, health and beauty, food and beverage, pet food and baby supplies.

Analysts say the takeaway for retailers is that they still need to pay close attention to consumers online because online browsing and research is prevalent. “While online transactions make it easy to download a book, buy a ticket to a sporting event or book a hotel room, building a consumer base for consumable categories requires more marketing muscle,” says John Burbank, president of strategic initiatives at Nielsen. “Finding the right balance between meeting shopper needs for assortment and value, while also building trust and overcoming negative perceptions, such as high costs and shipment fees, is vital for continued and sustainable growth.”

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