Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Online drives offline sales

I still keep hearing the criticism of the Internet that e-Commerce is a fraction of retail sales. For years, I have been trying to convince people that the influence of websites far exceeds the total amount purchased online. Online purchase totals are almost insignificant compared to the influential power of Internet vehicles to help consumers decide their offline purchases. And I'm not even factoring in the value of brand building online.

For instance, almost everyone, with a computer and Net connection, does at least some research online before booking a trip. But buying trips online is still rather difficult if you have complicated plans and it lacks the in-person assurance of having someone to advise you and to rely on if anything goes wrong.

Researching online but buying offline also applies to clothes, books and DVDs, property, investments, appliances & electronics, decorating products, etc.

Today, I found a study that confirms my point. Internet sources are the most-consulted sources of information for car buyers. Car manufacturers obviously have known this, as their websites are among the slickest looking and have the coolest functionality among any websites.

The fully study by Capgemini and sited in e-Marketer.com, shows that Internet sources represent three of the top five sources (the study was for buyers in the U.S., U.K, France, Germany & China). Manufacturer’s websites was the top source, even beating dealerships.

The top sources with their respective percentages of respondents are:

  1. Manufacturer websites = 49%
  2. Family & friends = 46%
  3. Manufacturer-specific dealer = 46%
  4. Information websites = 45%
  5. Dealer websites = 43%
  6. Specialist automotive press = 37%
  7. Independent e-Tailer websites = 31%
  8. Independent car valuation services = 29%
  9. Print advertising = 25%
  10. Used car dealer = 25%
  11. TV advertising = 24%
  12. Non-specialist press = 17%
  13. Web forum and discussion groups = 16%

I think this case is now officially closed. I’m not even going to argue this point any more – though I may send them this link.

No comments: