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Don't Leave the House

Consumers are clearly getting more comfortable using the Web to shop, The Washington Post reported today. "Both consumers and merchants are becoming ever more confident on the Internet, fueling new hybrid shopping patterns and marketing methods that blend the online and off-line worlds. This year(2003) a number of Internet-only retailers are adding print catalogues, stamping their brand names on products at traditional stores, and in some cases opening bricks-and-mortar stores. At the same time, traditional retailers are making it easier for shoppers to buy their products online and pick them up in the stores. Some are doing more on their floors to drive shoppers to their Web sites," the Post article said.

"This is the first time in my research where consumers do not seem to care whether it's e-based or brick-and-mortar based," C. Britt Beemer , chairman of market research firm America's Research Group , told the Post. "Whoever makes the shopping experience the cheapest or the easiest wins." * The Washington Post: Retailers Strive To Meet Shoppers By Store and Screen

And for those consumers too worried about the mechanics of e-commerce, a new class is being offered in the Milwaukee area to teach people how to shop online. The Franklin Community Education and Recreation Department and the Muskego Parks and Recreation Department are offering a course on Dec. 3 called "Let Your Fingers Do The Shopping," the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported recently. (This sounds like an advertiser's dream, but no details are provided in the article on whether advertisers are underwriting the class.)

"Participants will be taken on tours of some of the major retail chain Web sites along with sites from smaller businesses. Then they'll learn how to order online with credit cards, and talk about shipping options and how orders are confirmed by e-mail," the article said. "For a lot of people, when they place a credit card (order) online, there's this automatic fear that somebody's going to steal their life savings away," Joe Schoen , computer coordinator for the Franklin rec department, told the newspaper. "What we're trying to do is simply offer the class and help them along with which sites are safe and what they should look for to get over that big concern." * The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Course To Teach Online Shopping

Of course, those wary Wisconsin-ites are smart to worry about e-commerce, as online shopping proves it isn't immune from consumer complaints. A "survey by the Consumer Federation of America found an increase in the number of local consumer agencies that cited e-commerce or the Internet as a major complaint category in 2002, pushing it into one of the top 10 complaints," Reuters reported. * Reuters via E-Commerce Complaints Growing -- Study

Wired Cities
A Digital Marketing Services survey conducted for America Online concludes that Nashville, Tenn. is the nation's top city for online shopping. That's right, the capital of country music tops New York, San Francisco and every other wired town you can name.

Over the past year, the survey found that "online shoppers surveyed in the top 10 cities spent more time researching purchases or browsing, up 44 percent from last year, or up to 23 times a month. They also spent more online, up 18 percent from 2002, with the average consumer spending $235 a month. And while such big cities as Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco are to be found on the AOL list, it fell to their midsize sisters to dominate, with Nashville, Tenn., No. 1," The Miami Herald said in its coverage of the survey. "U.S. Hispanics, meanwhile, were found to be exerting their shopping muscle online, spending more and making more purchases than the national average. Plus, 68 percent of Hispanic online shoppers surveyed said they planned to spend more online this year." * The Miami Herald: Shopping Online? Miamians Into It

The "Online Shopping Cities" report "tallies the average number of times consumers go online to research and buy products or services, as well as the dollar amount spent per month online. Raleigh, N.C., and Baltimore were among the top five. Washington ranked No. 6 -- up from the No. 10 slot last year," The Washington Times said. "The ascent of so many mid-sized cities demonstrates that online shopping has become more mainstream than ever," said Patrick Gates , AOL's senior vice president of commerce, as quoted by The Washington Times. "The online medium is a powerful tool for consumers looking for the best information and the best prices out there." * The Washington Times: Nashville Tops Cities For Online Shopping

Wired Europe
London's Guardian newspaper yesterday picked up on data from Jupiter Media showing that online shopping is brisk across the pond. "The number of people shunning the cold and crowded high street for the comfort of their computer screens is expected to send online spend soaring for the fourth successive Christmas this year," the newspaper said, in a report that focused on online shopping in Europe.

"Consumer spending on the internet during November and December will hit [pounds sterling]4.2bn [about $7 billion], a 46% increase on the [pounds sterling]3.15bn [roughly $5 billion] spent during the same period last year, figures from internet research group Jupiter Media show. ... While traditionally big online sellers such as CDs, books and computer games will all sell well this Christmas, Jupiter predicts that the biggest winners will be web-based grocery stores such as , Sainsbury 's and Ocado , the online supermarket backed by Waitrose ." Who knew that groceries would be a favorite item for Santa? * The Guardian: Christmas Gift For Web Retailers

The same Jupiter numbers were picked up by ZDNet UK. "Technology will be leading the way in online shopping, as consumers rush to snap up this year's must-have items, including iPods and other electronic goodies such as digital cameras. Electronics are proving a popular online purchase, as e-tailers seek to get one over on their bricks and mortar equivalents by offering discounted prices as well as free delivery," ZDNet UK said, via * via ZDNet UK: Tech Purchases Set To Drive Christmas E-Shopping
Original Copywrite 2003

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