Consumers Still Wary about Purchasing Consumer Electronics Online: NPD

Consumers Still Wary about Purchasing Consumer Electronics Online: NPD


Port Washington, NY—Even with web shopping on the rise, many U.S. consumers are still reluctant to purchase certain consumer electronics (CE) products online, despite using the web to research them, according to a new report from The NPD Group.

The market research company’s E-commerce and Consumer Electronics: Online Shopping & Purchasing report reveals that televisions are the fourth most-likely item that consumers research online prior to purchasing (56%); however, it’s the least likely electronics product that consumers would actually purchase online (19%).

Smartphones also showed a much higher level of research versus buying online: 52% of consumers would seek out information about smartphones on the web, but only 23% would go online to purchase one. In contrast, 66% of the respondents said they do both their research (66%) and expect to make an actual purchase (34%) online for PCs then for any other CE device.

“Retailers continue to have an edge with consumers, when they can leverage their physical storefronts with a strong online presence, ” said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for NPD. “In fact more than three quarters (76%) of all consumers say they have used a retailer’s website to research a potential purchase, compared to just 62% for manufacturer-direct shoppers and 65% for online-only shoppers.”

Top consumer electronics products consumers were “extremely” or “very likely” to purchase online, include: computer software, 34%; computers, 34%; eReaders, 32%; digital cameras, 30%; computer accessories/peripherals, 30%; tablets, 29%; printers, 24%; smartphones/mobile phones, 23%; camcorders, 21%; Blu-ray players, 21%; home audio, 20%; and TVs, 19%.

“Part of consumers’ unwillingness to purchase certain electronics online might be due to a lack of awareness, or as a result of the slow pace taken by many traditional CE companies establishing a direct-to-consumer buying presence on the web, or it could be something inherent in the products themselves, such as price or complexity,” Baker added. “Whatever the cause, the result is a badly skewed online sales mix that relies heavily on a narrow range of products, and one that doesn't adequately address some of the more exciting growth opportunities.”

Reinforcing consumers comfort with a multi-channel approach to gathering information, NPD’s notes that “using retailers’ stores and websites are among the top five activities consumers do first, when they begin to consider purchasing consumer electronics.”

Information in NPD’s E-commerce and Consumer Electronics: Online Shopping & Purchasing report is based on online surveys fielded in June 2011 to a representative sample of 1,326 panelists from NPD’s online panel, with results “balanced to represent the U.S. adult population.”