Consumers use a variety of sources and tools to research an item and vendor before they make a CE purchase.  These sources include both online search and visits to traditional stores. Shoppers may also go directly to a retailer’s website. Which of these sources most heavily influences shoppers? A new report sponsored by Searchandise Commerce and iProspect provides some insight.

According to the report, over 2 out of 3 shoppers begin the buying process online. Overall, they turn to the following sources:

  • Retail sites: 19%
  • Search engines: 18%
  • Manufacturer sites: 13%
  • Physical stores: 10%
  • Read magazines/newspapers print copy: 10%
  • Consumer reports online: 5%
  • Blogs/social networks: 3%

Marketers should also pay attention to the time elapsed between consumer research and purchase. The study found that about 1/3rd of consumers who made a purchase did so within 1 week of their research session. Another 1/3rd of shoppers who purchased took action in the 2-4 week time frame.

Despite conducting significant online research, almost half of shoppers purchased their items in physical stores. Marketers can win business using online tactics. But it’s best to understand the different roles retail sites and search engine listings play in the purchase process. According to Searchandise Commerce analysts, consumers look for retail websites to provide information on price and brand options, promotions and sales. Consumers expect search engine results to offer information on customer and expert reviews, price, and recommendations.

The study also found that shoppers click on up to 10 product listings in a site search box. This tendency underscores the need for marketers to rank high in search findings in order to be visible to active shoppers.

[Source: The Value of Retail Search and Position. Searchandise Commerce and iProspect.  27 Jul. 2010. Web. 6 Aug. 2010]