Online consumers will spend $36bn on gifts by 2005

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A web retailer’s success or failure depends on how well its presence and offerings match what the 20 million online buyers expect when they search for gifts online.

According to a new Technographics Report* from Forrester Research, web retailers need to understand which products buyers seek, and what drives satisfaction. Understanding which products resonate and how particular categories vary by occasion will help retailers push the right gifts at the right times.

On average, gift buyers spend $68 per online purchase. And while products like clothing and books hover near the top of the popularity list for every occasion, the gift that takes the cake differs with each event. For example, toys top the list for children; books are the favorite for adults, and flowers win the prize for mothers’ and fathers’ days.

“Having the right product mix is one thing, but it won’t do any good if the consumer doesn’t think of the site when going online to buy,” said Christopher Kelley, an analyst at Forrester Research. “Consumers are demanding the perfect gift, at the right time, and hassle-free - in this competitive landscape, etailers must deliver on this promise or perish.”

The next step is understanding when consumers go to the web to purchase a present. Shoppers in the market for low-risk gifts, such as books or T-shirts, know exactly what they want and where they’ll buy it. However, consumers searching for big-ticket electronics will comparison shop on a couple of sites for the best price.

Retailers that minimize the risks associated with buying gifts online will satisfy consumers. Having the right product mix and being in the consumer’s head doesn’t amount to much if the site can’t satisfy the consumer.

The top priority for buyers is that their gift arrives on time. No present-giver wants to spoil a party and disappoint a hopeful recipient by announcing that his gift hasn’t arrived - 81% of gift buyers reported that online delivery is key.

Also, since most buyers already know what they want and where they want to buy it by the time they hit the web, they can’t be bothered with bad search and product-category guessing games. The web saves time - 62% of buyers said that they saved time buying gifts online versus going to a store.

* For the report Pulling In Online Gift Buyers, Forrester conducted a mail survey of 10,536 American and Canadian online households. Data was also drawn from Forrester’s Technographics 2000 North American Benchmark Study of 80,887 American and Canadian households. These surveys, revealed that 57% of buyers have purchased gifts online, and 84% are happy with their most recent web gift purchase. Buyers also look to the web throughout the year - 62% have purchased a festive season gift, 59% have purchased a gift for an adult’s birthday, and 32% bought a mother’s or father’s day present.

Forrester Research is an independent Internet research firm, analyzing technology change and its impact on business, consumers, and society. Forrester’s “Whole View” of the Internet economy enables clients to weave together Internet commerce initiatives with eBusiness technology to satisfy customers’ changing needs. Clients receive continuous research and analysis through Forrester eResearch Reports, an array of advisory services, assessment tools, and topical events.

Forrester

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