British Shoppers Turn Online More Often

ClickZ Stats

Updated · Dec 06, 2001

The number of Internet users in Britain has held steady over the last six months, according to Forrester Research, but the impact Internet use has had on purchasing behavior has grown.

Forrester’s U.K. Internet User Monitor survey found that 22.5 million British adults (48 percent) use the Internet at least once a month, up from 21.6 million adults (47 percent) in June 2001. Forrester’s survey is based on responses to more than 100 questions from more than 63,000 Internet users gathered between Oct. 15 and Nov. 5, 2001. Forrester weighted its online poll with telephone and mail surveys of more than 6,000 people.

“Despite the slowing penetration of regular Internet users and the well-publicized dot-com bust, the Web continues to impact British buying behavior; the number of consumers using the Internet to buy consumer goods and services is growing unabated,” said William Reeve, Forrester’s group director of European Data Products.

According to the survey, around 14 million U.K. Internet users have used the Net to buy or order products and services today. This represents growth of more than 50 percent compared with the 9 million British consumers who had bought online a year ago. Another sign of the Internet’s role in shopping is the move of researching future purchases into the three most common online activities. After sending e-mail (72 percent) and using search engines (66 percent), more than half of U.K. Internet users (53 percent) said they researched products and services online. Another 12 percent said that they had bought a product or service offline (through a shop or dealer) as a result of their research online.

“The reason for the sustained growth in online buying is the growing maturity of the U.K.’s Internet users,” Reeve said. “Our research shows that there is a clear correlation between experience and proclivity to buy. As consumers spend longer online, they become more confident about undertaking more complex activities like online shopping. In addition, more than 13 million online consumers now feel secure about giving personal financial details online, compared with just 8 million online consumers a year ago.”

British Internet users who are now using the Internet to do more shopping might also be learning that online-only retailers provide better service than the Web operations of major British brand names. That was the conclusion of a survey of online retailers published in November by Computing Which?.

Computing Which? surveyed 4,000 of its readers to gauge their opinions on the standard of customer service and delivery offered by leading online retailers. The survey also measured consumers’ level of satisfaction with the availability of books, CDs and computer equipment at these sites.

Online retailer Amazon took the top spot in four categories, including customer service (69 percent of its customers stated that they were “very satisfied” with Amazon’s levels of customer service) and delivery (77 percent of consumers were “very satisfied”). The range of products sold by the site also served Amazon well; 75 percent of its book buyers and 65 percent of those purchasing CDs stated that they were very satisfied with the range of titles available.

Other U.K. Internet-only retailers, such as Streets Online and Bol, also scored well for stock availability in both the CD and the book sections. Satisfaction with availability of computer equipment was also highest at Internet-only stores such as Dabs and Jungle.

The Web sites of traditional offline brands performed poorly in the survey. Only 16 percent of customers at Dixons’ Web site were very satisfied with its customer service. WH Smith records low scores for the availability of both CDs and books on its Web site. PC World had the lowest level of satisfaction with the availability of computer hardware and software.

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