When consumers first adopted online shopping as a new behavior, the beneficiaries of this new business channel were often well-established vendors such as Amazon. But as technology improved and more consumers made online activity an indispensable part of their daily lives, local vendors have begun advertising online. And according to a new BIA/Kelsey’s User View Wave VII study, more consumers are finding their vendors in the digital universe.

“The Internet has indeed become an integral part of consumers’  local commercial activity,” said Steve Marshall, director of research, BIA/Kelsey. The study reveals that consumers are using more media sources than ever in their search for local goods and services. In 2008, consumers used 5.8 sources. In 2009, that number jumped to 6.5 sources and this year, a typical consumers uses up to 7.9 media sources. Here’s an example of the resources a consumer uses in their quest to locate a local vendor:

  • Search engines 90%
  • Online Yellow Pages 48%
  • Vertical sites 24%
  • Comparison shopping sites 42%

Nearly 1 in 5 consumers uses a site’s appointment scheduling feature for services ranging from health care to hair care. Local vendors should keep in mind that these contact points offer an opportunity to increase sales to customers. And as Peter Krasilovsky, vice president and program director, Marketplaces, BIA/Kelsey points out, online services like appointment scheduling allow marketers to connect directly with a client and cut down on the “increase in audience fragmentation” that has resulted from the many online media outlets competing for consumer attention.

[Source: Nearly All Consumers (97%) Now Use Online Media to Shop Locally, According to BIA/Kelsey and ConStat. Bia/Kelsey. 10 Mar 2010. Web.  18 Mar 2010]