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Shopping research grows online

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The number of consumers turning to the internet to research their shopping is growing fast, according to a new Online Retail Monitor.

The first BRC-Google Online Retail Monitor, a quarterly report produced by Google and the British Retail Consortium, measures the growth of online retail searches. It uses the data produced when a retail product is searched for using Google, and found that in the first quarter of 2011, total retail searches grew by 29% compared to the previous year. Searches using mobile devices, including phones and tablets, grew by 181% to account for 11% of total retail searches.

As a group, multichannel retailers were the greatest beneficiaries. They enjoyed a 42% rise in searches, year on year, compared with 19% for pureplay merchants. Overall, the top three retail search terms were ‘boots’, ‘dresses’ and fancy dress, though home furnishings, furniture and iPods and the Kindle also featured in the top 10 of search terms.

Interestingly, the number of overseas consumers searching for UK retailers grew by 27% in the first quarter, suggesting strong potential for international expansion, while the number of UK consumers searching for overseas retailers grew by 21%.

Stephen Robertson, director general, British Retail Consortium, said: “Despite any short-term effects from weakening consumer confidence, what stands out here is the fundamental strength of the growth of online retailing.

“A 29% increase in retail searches in a year is a huge increase in potential shoppers.”

Peter Fitzgerald, retail director at Google, said: “The launch of the Online Retail Monitor marks a big step in understanding online consumer behaviour across categories. The report provides key insights into some important online trends.”

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