Search Engines the First Stop for Most Online Shoppers

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Three out of five consumers use search engines as their go-to online shopping resource, according to the recent Compete Online Shopper Intelligence Study. Sixty-one percent of respondents chose search engines as the tool they rely on most when shopping, putting them well ahead of coupon sites (35 percent), retailer E-mails (29 percent), online product/retailer reviews (24 percent), shopping comparison sites (22 percent), shopping portals (19 percent) and social networking sites (10).

The survey found that an overwhelming number of consumers (94 percent) perform some form of research before shopping online, underscoring the theory that manufacturers can better reach and influence shoppers through today’s myriad mediums. But exactly which mediums to target depends largely on the specific industry, as the study determined some interesting consumer behaviors when broken down into more concise consumer groups.

Only 12 percent of apparel shoppers, for example, stated that they used a search engine for their last online purchase. Instead, apparel shoppers rely on retailer E-mails, Websites and catalogs to learn about new products, more likely to buy from familiar sources from whom they’ve purchased in the past. Electronics shoppers (45 percent), on the other hand, actively seek out new manufacturers by using search engines for the bulk of their research.

Other findings from the survey included the following:

- Online shoe shoppers are the most likely to utilize sales assistants, both in-store and on Web chat
- Online shoppers of kitchenware and household appliances rely the most on in-store product displays
- More than 80 million consumers use comparison shopping sites, with sites such as Cnet, Bizrate, and Yahoo Shopping attracting more than 20 million consumers each.

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