Online Search & Purchase Behavior

Last month, release the results of a survey called . The study examined pre-purchase search activity across  the Apparel, Computer Hardware, Sports & Fitness and Travel categories.

The survey revealed that about half of all Internet shoppers conducted product research at a search engine before making a purchase online and that most people finish their purchase-related searches weeks prior to the transaction. The brand names of
online retailers were a minority of all purchase-related
searches made during shopping research.

The survey found product reseach on a search engine preceeds about one out of every two online purchases. Almost three-quarters of Travel consumers used search
engines before their transaction. Buyers in the Fitness/Sports category conducted
2.5 relevant searches in the three months before a purchase; Apparel consumers made 4.7 relevant searches; Computer Hardware buyers performed 4.9 searches, and Travel consumers averaged 6 travel-related searches three months before their purchase.

Highlighting the importance of , the survey revealed that most online shoppers complete their purchase-related search engine research two
or more weeks before their online purchase. 54.7% of Travel buyers’ final searches occurred at least two
weeks before buying; 21.5% searched one week or more before
their purchase, and only 23.8 % bought during the same session.

Searches including a brand name accounted for only 18.1% to 28.5% of all
searches buyers conducted, depending on the category. Only 4% or less of the searches for each category used search phrases that included merchant’s brands
plus another term. Though the volume of these searches are low, they have a high proportion of clicks
per search. For example, for Apparel sites,
just 1% of searches were brand-specific but those searches got 3.7% of clicks.

Brand-specific searches and click-throughs rise in prominence closer to the purchase, peaking during the purchase session–searches and
clicks conducted in the same session as the transaction. For apparel buyers, 10% of clicks-throughs occurred during the purchase session, and 89% of these click-throughs were brand-specific. The same behavior held true to a lesser degree across the other categories: 9% and 54% for Computer Hardware; 9% and 49% for Travel; and 11% and 57% for Sport & Fitness.

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