In conjunction with Chicago-based consultancy, the e-tailing group, Krillion found that 67% of Web-savvy shoppers spend more than 30% of their total shopping time researching products on the Web.
Meanwhile, another group--dubbed 'Web-informed buyers' by researchers --spends more than 50% of their shopping time researching online, and have developed sophisticated behaviors and requirements as they use the sites of manufacturers and e-tailers to determine what to buy and where to buy it.
"Consumers are actively gathering detailed product information, insight from other shoppers, and third-party validation from multiple sources--regardless of where they end up consummating the final purchase," said Sherry Thomas-Zon, vice president of marketing at Krillion. "This means retailers must be poised for a confident, ready buyer who has done his or her homework."
Overall, the study of the online shopping behavior of some 1,000 consumers found that they spend a substantial proportion of their total shopping time scouring the Web for product information, buying guides, opinions and reviews of the products they wish to buy.
When consumers are considering purchasing complicated and information-intensive products such as computers, kitchen appliances and consumer electronics products, Web-savvy shoppers consult a wide variety of online resources in a research phase that can begin days, weeks or even months before the actual purchase.
The study also revealed that expectations are high for today's online shoppers regarding the number of information sources they seek out and the features they expect to find on the sites they visit, such as cross-channel purchasing options and real-time inventory information.
These consumers make a substantial investment of their time in the hope of finding the best price for an in-stock product. Many of them have embraced the concept of buying items online for in-store pick-up: 55% of the shoppers surveyed have purchased a product this way, while for sophisticated, Web-informed buyers this number is 60%.
Notably, when shopping for complicated and information-intensive products, manufacturers' sites are ranked as the most essential destination for 72% of the 1,000 shoppers surveyed, followed by online stores operated by retailers--54%--and comparison-shopping engines--50%.
"Manufacturer Web sites are clearly critical links in the information-gathering process," said Lauren Freedman, president of the e-tailing group. "This survey underscores their influence as ultimate information resources for sophisticated shoppers."