Actual orders grew by 47% to 101.34 million unique transactions in the third quarter. However, the average purchase amount has decreased by 15% to $123 in Q3 2003 compared to $145 in the same period last year.
The lower transaction amounts are being driven by price comparison shopping. In a BizRate.com Online Research Value Panel in September 2003, 78% of online buyers cited they were deal shopping because of tighter budgets. And, ninety-six percent said they comparison shop some, most or all of the time. Nearly half of online buyers (48%) are using aggregators such as comparison shopping sites, shopping portals, search engines and auction sites to start their shopping versus going directly to a merchant site (52%).
Women are also driving most online transactions with September research highlighting that 62% of online buyers were females and only 38% are male.
Online shoppers are also expected to show more loyalty to price than store brand this holiday season as 45% of shoppers say they would not pay any price premium at all. The top categories in terms of sales volume were computer hardware ($3.09 billion), electronics ($1.97 billion), apparel ($1.28 billion) and entertainment ($1.24 billion). The strongest growth in Q3 came from Food & Wine (up 208%), Gifts & Flowers (up 198%), Office Supplies (up 182%) and Entertainment (up 181%) categories.
For Q4, the holiday quarter, BizRate.com forecasts $18.35 billion in online sales which is a 22% increase in spending over last year's $15.04 billion.