Seventy percent of respondents to a survey from Decision Direct Research, a division of Peterborough, NH-based Millard Group, said that their online holiday shopping experiences met expectations. But half of the respondents declared themselves disappointed with the lack of unique merchandise available online.
In fact, only 47% of the online buyers surveyed said that the Websites they shopped offered unique items. Sites selling gifts and apparel received the lowest scores, with only 40% and 44% respectively offering unique merchandise. Children’s product received the highest scores for unique items available online, at 62%.
“Online buyers want and expect to find unusual, one-of-a-kind items on Websites,” says Decision Direct vice president Lilliane LeBel. “They want gifts, clothes, and children’s items that are different than anyone else’s.”
In terms of merchandise quality, 58% said they were “very satisfied.” Food gifts received the highest scores for quality, with 69% of respondents indicating very satisfied. The apparel category again scored lowest, managing only a 50% “very satisfied” rating.
Other figures from the survey include: • Satisfaction numbers related to ease of online checkout rose from 51% in 2004 to 56% in 2005. • Satisfaction regarding the accuracy of online product descriptions inched up from 52% in 2004 to 55%.
LeBel says that although these numbers do represent improvement, the increase in satisfaction is not dramatic. “Since roughly half of the shoppers did not give ‘very satisified’ ratings to the sites they shopped from, it’s clear that many of these sites still need refinement,” she says.
Also of note, catalogs continue to drive a significant share of online sales, with 82% of respondents indicating that receipt of a catalog motivated them to visit and ultimately buy from a Website. Nearly as many—81%–said that e-mails drove online shopping. Roughly 54% of respondents indicated that they did some comparison-shopping before buying online, with most of that comparison-shopping being done on other Websites.