SHOPPERS’ LIST OF DEMANDS GROWING

Byline: Vicki M. Young

NEW YORK — Is there anything the cybershopper doesn’t want online?
It would appear not. While low prices are still important to Internet consumers, according to a recent study from PricewaterhouseCoopers, so are convenience; accurate deliveries; excellent service, and a wide selection of merchandise.
The report, carried in the consultant’s E-Retail Intelligence Update, concluded that online shoppers want it all — and they want it for less.
Among online apparel shoppers surveyed, 54 percent said price was paramount. Other factors they cited as important included a product’s brand, which ranked second in importance, followed by selection, ease in shopping a site, and customer service — with both ranked fourth — and reasonable delivery fees.
Price also topped the lists of cybershoppers scouting for media products and big-ticket electronics.
Among all Net shoppers surveyed, 44 percent said the main reason they buy things online is to get lower prices, while 46 percent said they usually made purchases on the Web because of price promotions. Seventy-six percent said they would shop online more often, if prices were lower.
More than half of all users surveyed said they expect online prices to be lower than similar purchases made at stores and catalogs. Excluding shipping and handling charges from the price equation, most perceive online prices to be lower than more traditional distribution channels.
Of those surveyed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 64 percent prefer sites that charge a single flat fee for shipping and handling, instead of a base fee and an additional charge per item.
Indeed, 47 percent said their main reason for not shopping online more is because they don’t want to pay the shipping and handling charges.
The majority of cybershoppers — 73 percent of those surveyed — use standard delivery when they have to pay for shipping costs, with 93 percent saying it was the route they took for their last purchase online.
Men ranked delivery time as more important than women, and, as a result, men were more inclined than women to use quick delivery options.
When it comes to apparel shopping on the Web, men, more so than women, cited a preference for branded goods.
“Since men are less likely to be the primary household shopper in these categories, [the] brand most likely serves as a ‘safety net’ for their purchases,” the study stated. In addition, the survey found that women seem more willing to substitute one brand for another, or to try new brands.