Our online behaviors certainly influence the retail buying cycle. According to a recent National Retail Federation study, a whopping 93% of respondents spend time online first, including 35% who regularly research and another 58% who occasionally research online before buying in person.
What's surprising is that online media aren't the most important influences in triggering an online shopping search. Well over 40% of respondents individually identified TV, magazines and newspapers as the most important triggers. By contrast, just 28% mentioned e-mail ads and only 25% claimed internet ads of any kind!
Other online communications aren't significant influences either. Only 7% of respondents mention blogs, 9% IM, and 8% online communities as triggers to search online. These sources increase slightly among 18-24 year olds, up to 14% blogs, 22% IM and 21% communities.
After respondents finish searching, communications become more personal. About 69% speak to someone face-to-face. Another 53% send emails, 50% pick up their land-lines and 30% make cell calls.
Once again, online interactions fall short. Just 4% blog, 15% IM and 7% participate in communities. Here you see a pick-up among 18-24 year olds, as 9% blog, 38% IM and 21% use communities. Also some 24% of this age group sends text messages.
So while search dominates the retail discussion, everything else we're doing online hasn't made that kind of singular impact among shoppers yet.