New IMShopping Survey Shows E-Commerce Hindered by Lack of Human Assistance for Shoppers

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Large percentage of respondents indicate lack of assistance affected decision to purchase products online.

No level of automation can replace the human touch. The results indicate that shoppers still want real people to help them purchase products, even in a digital setting

Americans shopping online are missing the personalized experience of visiting a brick and mortar store, leading to a decrease in purchases, according to recent survey commissioned by Santa Clara-based IMShopping and conducted by Harris Interactive®. The survey of 2,274 adults, ages 18 and older, measured consumer sentiment on receiving human assistance while shopping online.

The results found that:

Nearly 3 in 4 U.S. online adults (74%) have purchased items online in the past 6 months. These adults are most commonly purchasing clothing (44%), books (38%), music (28%), health and beauty products (28%) and travel related items (28%). A few have even purchased things like sporting goods (9%), automobiles (4%) and real estate (1%) online.

About 4 in 5 online adults who have purchased items online in the past 6 months (77%) say they would be interested in getting help from a real person before making certain online purchases. Of these adults, over half say they'd want help from a real person before purchasing things like real estate (56%), automobiles (54%), and insurance (51%). Many would also like help from a real person when it comes to purchasing things like personal computers (42%), computer hardware/software (39%), home appliances (35%) and mobile phones (31%).

While the majority of online adults who have purchased items online in the past 6 months say they would be interested in getting help from a real person before making the purchase, over 4 in 5 (82%) say there have been times when they have not been able to get the help from a real person.

Most strikingly, over half (52%) of those who have not always been able to get the help they needed from a real person say it's affected their decision to not purchase the product at least sometimes, while 16% say it's affected their decision not to purchase the product almost always or often.

Automated assistance not cutting it:

The vast majority (93%) of those who have purchased items online in the past 6 months say they have had a question about an online purchase, and over half (58%) say the question cannot be answered from the information on the website at least sometimes, while 16% say their question almost always or often cannot be answered from the information on the website.

"No level of automation can replace the human touch. The results indicate that shoppers still want real people to help them purchase products, even in a digital setting," said Prashant Nedungadi, CEO and founder of IMshopping, a social media shopping firm. "Many retailers have started taking steps in this direction and we believe it will be the single biggest push for the retail industry over the next several years."

About Harris Interactive:
Harris Interactive® is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research, powered by our science and technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive® serves clients globally through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms. For more information, please visit http://www.harrisinteractive.com.

About IMshopping:
IMshopping brings a human touch to shopping on the Web. We make finding products easier with the help of real people who search out deals, read reviews and share this valuable information with you and the greater community. The company is based Santa Clara, California and is backed by SK Telecom.

About the survey:
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive® via the QuickQuerySM online omnibus service on behalf of ImShopping from June 12 to 16, 2009 among 2,274 adults ages 18 and older, of whom 1,767 have purchased items online in the past 6 months. Results were weighted as needed to reflect the composition of the U.S. online population of adults ages 18+ using targets on the basis of Internet usage (hours per week) and connection type as well as by age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Alisa Davis alisa (at) vscconsulting (dot) com.

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Alisa Davis
IMshopping
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