Thursday, July 12, 2007

Barely a Teen—But Online Savvy

My son is 13 and, despite the fact that he’s nearly six-feet-tall and wears a size 13 shoe, he’s still my baby. (I’m writing this with fingers crossed that he doesn’t read this blog!)

My baby or not, he’s one smart shopper, with research skills far beyond his years. He employs a two-pronged purchase approach—researching an item online, then heading to a bricks-and-mortar location to make his buy.

Recently I read a study, generated by security service ScanAlert, reporting that the average time it takes a shopper to make an e-commerce purchase decision has jumped from about 19 hours in 2005 to 34 hours and 19 minutes this year. The report suggested that the increase is due to more extensive comparison-shopping.

Intrigued by the newly released statistics, I asked my son yesterday how much time he spends researching an item before he feels prepared to make a purchase. “It depends on how much I already know about it,” he told me. For instance, he explained, if there’s a video game he’s interested in purchasing, his online investigation is fairly straightforward: he finds out the rating and, if it’s “Mature,” he investigates the reasons why, knowing it may take him the remaining 34 hours of average decision-making time to convince me to let him buy it!

If, though, his targeted purchase is more complex—for instance, a new drum trap-set—he will spend hours online researching brands and components, and, of course, shopping for the best price.

My son said he doubts that he spends 34 hours on purchase decision-making, but he did make it clear that he will spend whatever time it takes to feel confident that he has made the right purchase choice with his hard-earned money.

— Katherine Field

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