Study: Many consumers still don't buy electronics online

You might think that consumers in the Internet era would want to purchase their electronic products online. In fact, the NPD Group's newest study shows that's not really the case for many of the most popular consumer electronics items. While the vast majority of shoppers do a lot of research online before they buy an electronics device, some products are still mostly bought in brick and mortar stores. For example, only 19 percent of people surveyed by NPD said they would be "extremely" or "very likely" to buy a new television online, even though 56 percent of them research which TV they want to buy online.

Other products that people are reluctant to buy on a web site include a Blu-Ray player (21 percent), a camcorder (also 21 percent) and oddly enough a mobile phone or smartphone (23 percent). The products with the highest percentage of people willing to pay for them online include computers and computer software (both 34 percent), an eReader (32 percent) and a digital camera (30 percent).

According to NPD's vice president Stephen Baker, "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. 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."

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Do you buy your electronics primarily online?

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This is one reason Apple is having phenomenal success, the Apple Stores. They provide the full experience. Showroom, helpful sales people, technical support and a place to return a defective item.

If it's over £100 I'll buy in the store. I like to know/use/test what im buying rather than look at the pictures/reviews. Under that, I'll buy online.

I used to buy everything online, due to availability and price. However, lately I've been buying most of my electronics in a brick and mortar store. The reason? Well, they pricematch to store in Canada, carries pretty much everything everyone else does, I can get it instantly, excellent refund policies, and no shipping costs (Other than the $1.50 of gas it takes me to get there... negligible if I'm just on the way home from my daily commute).

There is no reason why I DON'T want to buy from that retail store in particular.

That said, price has always been the #1 determining factor for me.

Camcorder? Hardly an internet generational thing. Blu-ray players? It's all about downloads and streaming now. Most mobiles are something really personal to use and most have better deals on store. Not sure about tvs, I got mine in store on a whim, but certainly would buy online.

Basically, there's nothing I'd not buy online even after trying in store. I've even bought dvds online via an app after scanning the physical items barcode in store. The next gen of buyers have even less connection to physical items - It'sall about content-so stores of brick face a tough future.

1998 : I remember when a new computer would cost nearly $2000 in a computer store. Alot came with the package deal though, the computer itself, monitor, scanner, printer, surge protector, keyboard, mouse, and a mouse pad.
Having learned how to build computers since then I find it cheaper to get parts online. The prices have dropped dramatically as well, but I still think its cheaper to build your own than it is to buy one in a store because they mark up the price and the OEM always installs alot of crapware that I remove when I service peoples computers when they bring them to me 6 months after they bought it because its running slow.

I can get almost everything far cheaper online. The easiest way is to use Bing or Google shopping and look at the various prices the different retailers offer. eBay (buy from sellers with large amounts of positive feedback and ones that have customer satisfaction policies) or sites like Dell Outlet also has great deals on refurbished items. For example, I recently got a 27" IPS Dell U2711 for around $680 used but in perfect condition through eBay when brand new they cost over $1000. But what I find crazy is how there are people that only shop at places like Best Buy and constantly get ripped off.

There are some very simple answers for this:

1) Return policies - Easier to return a product in store.
2) Speed - Faster to pick the item up than wait 5 days.

Could they really not figure this out? Wow.

andrewbares said,
There are some very simple answers for this:

1) Return policies - Easier to return a product in store.
2) Speed - Faster to pick the item up than wait 5 days.

Could they really not figure this out? Wow.

Something that trumps everything else - Price.

Exactly, I got my previous LCD screens at a "web price" and I shopped around to see if I could get them cheaper or the same price "in store" but I couldn't, it was a difference of something like 30 euros per screen, reason enough for me!

_DP said,

Something that trumps everything else - Price.

Depends on how much cheaper the product is online vs. offline. Sometimes it can be worth paying a little bit more in-store for an expensive electronics item, e.g. for the benefits listed above. Also you may be able to get some places to price match.

(I purchase most of my electronics items online too.)

andrewbares said,
There are some very simple answers for this:

1) Return policies - Easier to return a product in store.
2) Speed - Faster to pick the item up than wait 5 days.

Could they really not figure this out? Wow.


Indeed, if I where to go and buy a new TV and go to an actual store for those to reasons, any returns will be handled with personnel in that store rather over some stupid email/phone support and so on, I can take it with me home that day instead of wait and get away from any eventual shipping cost too.

And then there is the fact that I actually get to see the actual product I'm paying for before actually paying which is good with stuff like TVs where the picture quality of two TVs with the same price might actually differ quite a bit.

I do of course use the internet to make sure I'm buying it from the store with the lowest price (lowest price and best return policy really).

This isn't the case of everything though, if I'm to buy some new hardware for my computer I'll order it online. But some things are simply better bought from a physical store.

andrewbares said,
There are some very simple answers for this:

1) Return policies - Easier to return a product in store.
2) Speed - Faster to pick the item up than wait 5 days.

Could they really not figure this out? Wow.

Exactly. I buy all my electronics except PC components in stores (PC components are that much cheaper online that I can't justify buying them in store. But as Neobond said, you can get something like a monitor for €30 less online, but for me, the convenience of being able to take it back to the store and get a refund there and then is worth €30 to me. When I bought my LED monitor a couple of months ago, it came with a European power lead, and so I went back into the store with my receipt and the bad cable, and they went into a drawer, fumbled about a bit, and gave me a free compatible power lead. The same thing online would have taken me a week at the very least.

The same principle applied to the girlfriends Android tablet when I bought that for her birthday. It's much easier to just keep hold of the receipt and have piece of mind that I can just take it back to the shop and get a replacement if necessary than work through the RMA and online returns policies, the latter of which I've been stung by in the past.