23 May 2024 23:02

Mobile & Digital

Online browsing and buying rates vary by category

E-commerce makes it simple for consumers to browse and buy with just a click. If digital retailers and marketers are worried that online shoppers are clicking off before checking out, new research from Nielsen may help to alleviate that concern.

When it comes to shopping for clothes, event tickets, books and toys, or making reservations for tours and hotels, there is mostly a one-to-one correlation between online searching and shopping. That means those who browse on the Web also complete the purchase and buy online. These closely linked browsing/buying items are also among those with the highest purchase intention rates, which range between 35 percent and 46 percent of respondents surveyed.    

Consumable products, on the other hand, have lower online browse/buy intention rates than non-consumable products, but surprisingly, they boast just as strong browse-to-buy correlations. For example, for cosmetics, 33 percent of global respondents say they browse and 31 percent say they buy: nearly a one-to-one correlation. Similarly, about one-third of global respondents say they browse and buy personal care products (31%/29%) and groceries (30%/27%). About one-fourth browse and buy pet products (24%/21%) and baby supplies (23%/20%), and roughly one-fifth browse/buy flowers (20%/18%) and alcoholic drinks (20%/17%).

“Strong online browse-to-buy correlation rates for fast-moving consumer goods translate to loyal repeat customers for these categories,” said John Burbank, president of Strategic Initiatives, Nielsen. “While these categories are still in the early stages of online adoption, these correlations signal great news for retailers. Now is the time to create omni-channel experiences for consumers who are actively using both digital and physical platforms to research and purchase, as increasingly, they don’t make a distinction between the two.”  

As noted, people are more likely to buy non-consumables online. But some have lower browse/buy ratios. Among the products more conducive to online browsing than buying are: electronic equipment, mobile phones, computer hardware/software, sporting goods and cars/motorcycles. These products can carry high price tags and often require physical try-before-you-buy test runs. The browse-to-buy difference for these products tends to be skewed toward browsing by about 7 percentage points.

Of 22 categories in the study, the only category with a higher global online buy-to-browse ratio is airline tickets (48% buy/40% browse). Securing air travel plans online has proven to be a reliable and effective method for many. 

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