New report shows online consumers window shopping for days before buying
Location NAPA, CA
Date 3 May 2005

A new online shopping report that tracked more than 8 million consumers shows that they often spend several days digitally window shopping before making a purchase. The average time delay between a consumer's first visit to a Web site and their first purchase was just over 19 hours, with over 20% of shoppers delaying their buy decision for more than three days.

About one-third (35%) of shoppers took more than 12 hours to make a buy decision. Twenty-one percent took more than three days, with 14% of these "cautious shoppers" taking more than one week to decide where to buy.

The extent to which digital window shopping has become commonplace is clearly revealed by data tracking the buying behavior of more than 8 million online shoppers who visited 140 Web sites between June 2004 and March 2005. Participating retailers included GSI Commerce, Ritz Camera, and Tiger Direct. The behavior was recorded during individual A/B split tests sites run to evaluate ScanAlert's HACKER SAFE certification mark affect on sales conversion rates.

"Consumers abandon shopping carts with an ease that frustrates and often confuses online retailers," noted report author Ken Leonard, CEO, ScanAlert. "Retailers must understand, however, that almost half of all online purchases are from shoppers who leave a site after the first visit, and return — even days later — to buy."

The Web is a "catalog of catalogs." Today's online shoppers typically visit multiple sites, loading items into shopping carts as a convenient way to compare total costs, including shipping charges. The return-to-buy decision seems to be based on two general categories: price/availability and safety/trust. The length of time from initial visit to actual purchase measured during the tests shows that consumers do a great deal of evaluation in these categories before deciding where to buy. The delay varied from site to site depending on customer demographics, brand recognition, the number of competitors online, and average product price.