Why Consumers Should Take Time To Comparison Shop

Online Shopping

As Christmas rapidly approaches and the shopping season gets into high gear, I urge consumers and online retailers alike to diligently compare all options and make decisions with as much intelligence as possible.

In the online shopping world, the old adage of ‘making your list and checking it twice’ has never been more important when it comes to comparison shopping. The HSBC Christmas Spending Survey found that UK consumers will spend an average of £560 celebrating Christmas this year, with £378 of the total on gifts for immediate family.

The survey also found that as many consumers will turn to the Internet as they will to the High Street, although online purchasing will be more popular with groups aged under 55. These statistics confirm that this year – more than ever – online retailers will need to be ready for to meet consumer demands.

Prices of top Christmas toys vary up to 29 percent

The trick for both the consumer and online retailer is to find the best deal. Lixto used its Price Intelligence Suite recently to track the prices of the “Terrific Twenty” toys on the 2011 Christmas Toys List from ToysRUs. Looking at prices across the UK’s top online retailers, I found tremendous disparity in pricing.

On any given day over the past week alone, the prices of the “Terrific Twenty” toys have changed – sometimes multiple times – at each retailer. The price difference for individual toys on the list at even the same retailer has ranged from 1 to 29 per cent over the week, with movement both up and down. Between retailers, price differentials run up to 30 percent on singular items. Disparity becomes even greater looking at prices with and without shipping costs.

Messages for savvy consumers, online retailers

The message to the savvy Internet consumer is to take the time to comparison shop, to look at prices with and without shipping costs, and to evaluate online ratings for items they are considering. The Internet can be a great tool, but only when the consumer makes the effort to shop conscientiously.

The message to the Internet retailer may be even clearer. In the current economic market, online retailers cannot afford to complain about online abandonment – the practice of a consumer logging on to a retail site, adding items to his/her online shopping cart and then exiting before making a purchase – if they are not offering consumers the greatest overall value.

With pricing and other purchase-influencing factors changing up to several times each day, retailers are finding that advanced technology systems are the only way to remain competitive. It’s time for online retailers to understand, at a deep level, where they stack up in an increasingly competitive – and vast – online marketplace.

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Christian Köstler is responsible for Sales & Marketing and Professional Services at Lixto. Most recently, Christian was Sales Director Automotive Europe with Agile Software (AGIL). Prior to Agile, Christian spent nearly 8 years at Eigner in several General Management and Sales Management Positions and helped as manager and shareholder to grow the company from a local company to a global player. Christian holds a degree in Electrical Engineering and a degree of the Vienna Business School.