How do consumers buy products online

Get information online - buy offline: Google study on buying behavior

More and more German consumers are using the Internet to find out about products and services online. A current Google study has now examined how purchasing decisions are specifically influenced by research on the Internet. INTERNETHANDEL presents the study in detail, reports on its results and, against this background, gives practical tips for your own sales strategy.


The Internet is now one of the most popular sources of information of all kinds. More and more consumers are using the World Wide Web to find out about products and services before deciding whether to buy or use them.

In order to gain reliable data on the specific process of purchase decisions and the role of the Internet here, Google recently presented a study that deals in particular with the group of consumers who use the web for information in order to ultimately make their purchases in the to do stationary trade. This group of people is referred to by Google as "ROPO" (Research Online, Purchase Offline).



More than 50 percent of Internet users get information via the World Wide Web

Overall, it is becoming apparent that more than 50 percent of Internet users in Germany use the World Wide Web to search for and compare products online. Around 16 percent of these buy the product they are looking for directly in an online shop. 38 percent of buyers get information on the Internet and then ultimately buy offline. In relation to the total number of German consumers, the proportion of those who inform themselves via the Internet before making a purchase decision is around 40 percent.

In this context, it is interesting that the so-called ROPO buyers are almost as active on the Internet as those customers who shop online. The information gathering and comparison process takes an average of 35 to 37 days. Here, between three and four websites are visited and seven to nine entries are made in a search engine.



The usage figures differ considerably depending on the specific industry

Around 40 percent of customers who obtain information on the Internet and ultimately shop in brick-and-mortar stores use Google as a search engine for their research. The proportion of consumers who use the Internet for informational purposes varies widely depending on the specific industry in which the search is made. Around 65 percent of consumers do research on the World Wide Web when it comes to choosing financial products.

In this sector, however, only around 11 percent of interested consumers get a deal via the Internet. When it comes to mobile communications, the Internet also provides 61 percent of consumers with comprehensive information before deciding on a provider, a tariff or a device. More than half of internet users use the web to find out about fashion. As a result, however, clothing and accessories are only purchased online by around 15 percent.


Our practical tip: When designing your website, consider the information needs of consumers. Offer your visitors comprehensive information about the products and services you offer. Although many consumers choose to use the Internet for information but not to buy, there is a good chance of successful sales for retailers who inform their visitors in a serious and trustworthy manner.

If you offer your services both online and offline, you should clearly refer to this on your website and actively offer your visitors direct purchase in your own premises.