Analysis: No checkouts, no chocolate: Online shopping hits impulse buys

Wed Nov 27, 2013 7:49am EST
 
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By Martinne Geller and Emma Thomasson

LONDON/BERLIN (Reuters) - For consumers, one of the great things about shopping online is bypassing the queue to check out. For producers of the candy, magazines and drinks often sold there, it's a problem.

In Britain, the country where e-commerce is most popular, about 13 percent of people do all or most of their grocery shopping online. Yet this only accounts for 5 percent of overall spending, suggesting consumers spend more when they visit a store.

That is because online shoppers search for what they need, usually sticking close to their shopping lists. They don't spontaneously buy magazines they opened while waiting to pay, or chocolate to eat on the go.

Elizabeth Clark, a 40-year-old teacher in Liverpool, England now does most of her shops on the internet, and says she ends up buying fewer sweets, newspapers, toys and wine.

"In the supermarket, obviously you walk past it and you see a special offer and you think 'Oh, I'll have that'," she said.

Even though retailers try to do the same thing by flagging special offers at online check-out, it doesn't usually work.

"I always just press 'next, next, next, next' without even reading them, deliberately, because I don't want to be tempted."

Companies most at risk are Mondelez International, Mars Inc and Nestle, the top three candy makers, soda makers like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, and magazine publishers like Time Warner and Hearst Corp.   Continued...

 
A Nestle logo is pictured on KitKat chocolate bars, during the nine month sale figures news conference at the company headquarters in Vevey in this October 17, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/Files