9 Out of 10 Online Holiday Shoppers Experienced Problems, But Still Rated Web Better than Stores and Catalogs for Purchases, According to New Accenture Study

Internet Growth Continues, As 96% of Bellwether Group Will Use Web Next Holiday Season and 72% Willl Shop Online Throughout 2000

NEW YORK, January 10, 2000 - While 88 percent experienced Web buyers abandoned their online shopping carts at some point during the 1999 holiday season and 40% reported various problems, they were generally more satisfied shopping online then anyplace else, according to a new Accenture study. Specifically, 73 percent ranked Internet shopping the highest in terms of overall satisfaction compared to brick & mortar stores (60%) and catalogs(56%), respectively.

"Even though online shopping has its flaws, experienced Internet users love shopping on the web. But the long-term message is clear: Internet retailers must solve their infrastructure problems or suffer consequences," said Steve Johnson, Accenture Partner and co-director of the firm’s eCommerce program. "Thirty-five percent of online shoppers who experienced problems on a particular site left that site for another, our study revealed. Given high customer acquisition costs, eTailers can’t continue to lose one of every three consumers and expect to survive. Their top concern must be infrastructure improvements."

Top 10 Problems Experienced % Internet Buyers
1. Gift wanted to purchase was out of stock 64%
2. Product was not delivered on time 40
3. Paid too much for the delivery of the product 38
4. Connection or download trouble 36
5. Didn’t receive confirmation or status report on purchase 28
6. Selections were limited 27
7. Web site was too difficult to navigate 26
8. Web site didn’t provide information needed to make purchase 25
9. Prices were not competitive 22
10. The web site didn’t offer enough gift ideas for me 16

A bright future for Internet shopping as Web outperforms brick & mortar stores

Ninety-six percent of experienced Internet users anticipate they will use the Web to purchase products next holiday season, and 72 percent will use the Internet for day-to-day shopping in 2000, according to the study.

The Internet outperformed catalogs and bricks & mortar stores on all the key attributes that mattered most to online shoppers: competitive price, obtaining everything from one source, convenience, and time savings. The study found:

Internet Catalog Stores
* Offers most competitive price 21% 10% 13%
* Offers Everything I need from One Source 12% 7% 10%
* Is Convenient 59% 41% 12%
* Saves Time 62% 33% 3%

Additionally, books - the first product category to be sold en masse on the Web - remain at the leading edge of shopping in the eEcomony. Experienced Web users bought more books online than in stores this holiday season. In fact, according to the survey, books and videotapes were the only categories in which more online shoppers made more purchases on the Web than in stores or via catalogs.

Type of Gift Via Internet Via Catalog Via Stores
Toys 48% 33% 57%
Books 47% 15% 34%
Music 42% 15% 46%
Videotapes 35% 17% 30%
Clothing 29% 41% 81%
ComputerHardware/Software 25% 10% 29%
Collectibles/Candles/Knickknacks 23% 26% 48%
Household Items/Appliances 17% 12% 34%
Consumer Electronics 17% 10% 25%
Cosmetics/Personal Care 16% - 29%
Sporting Goods 14% - 16%
Greeting Cards 13% - 35%
Food/Wine 11% 10% 17%
Gift Certificates 9% 6% 38%
Flowers or Gardening Items 9% - 5%
PetGifts 6% - 21%
Subscriptions to Magazines or Newspapers 5% - 4%
Jewelry 3% - 24%
Furniture - - 8%
Other 13% 11% 8%

Product Features That Will Drive Future Spending

When asked which type of product or service feature would increase the likelihood of purchasing more products or services over the internet in the future, respondents cited the following features:

Internet Feature % Internet Purchasers
1. Free product delivery 98%
2. On-time delivery guarantees 95
3. No sales tax 91
4. Coupons/promotions such as "buy three, get one free" 83
5. Customer assistance via a toll-free telephone number 68
6. Live, on-line customer assistance 62
6. Customer reviews or recommendations 62
8. Helpful hints for colors, sizes, or other aids 58
8. Free gift-wrapping included 58
10. Gift suggestions 46


Taking respondents from Accenture’s October 1999 pre-holiday shopping study of 1,492 online shoppers, a total of 541 of these Internet users responded to a follow up poll over an eight-day period beginning Monday, December 27, 1999 through Monday, January 3, 2000. The survey was administered on the Internet. Finally, the data was weighted to the Internet population and a small number of respondents who did not purchase holiday gifts were eliminated from the sample. As a result, the total weighted sample, comprising 502 respondents, will be used throughout the remainder of this analysis.