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$150m spent online at Christmas

According to Australian Internet research group www.consult, approximately 600,000 Australians spent $150 million online over Christmas.

The group conducted a survey of 2,339 Australian Internet users from 18 to 24 December.

The survey revealed that online Christmas shoppers spent less than 28 per cent of their total Christmas shopping budget in online stores.

Approximately 41 per cent used the Internet to research products that were later bought in bricks and mortar stores.

On the whole, Australian online shoppers seemed to be happy with their online purchasing experience, with 98 percent of these Christmas shoppers intending to shop online again next year.

Research group Ernst & Young estimated that American holiday shoppers spent an average of $US1,080, with 67 per cent being spent in traditional bricks and mortar stores, 7 per cent via catalogue and 26 per cent online.

PC Data Online and Goldman Sachs conducted a survey of 3,004 home-based Internet users and found that, in one week in December, shoppers spent more than $US1.2 billion online. This is the first time online spending has exceeded the $US1 billion mark.

According KPMG's online Christmas shopping survey, the increase could be driven by consumer expectations that online goods cost less.

KPMG found that 60 per cent of those surveyed expected to pay less for purchases made online, 37 per cent expected to pay the same amount and 3 per cent expected to pay more.

KPMG national partner-in-charge of retail Mark Larson said:"e-tailers that are competing on price alone may find that they do not have a sustainable strategy going forward.

“The weaker online retailers are not likely to survive in an environment where price is the only driver.

Successful e-tailers need interactive websites that are integrated with their physical stores and offer a sense of community.”

Larson went on to stress the importance of online customer service.

He included stock control, reasonable delivery time, website response time and accurate product information and pricing as being key factors which would contribute to success in online retailing.

Meanwhile, www.consult expect that “the online shopping market will grow to 3.8

million users (20 per cent of the Australian population) by the end of 2000”.

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