IDC: Online sales moving 40 per cent of US consumer PCs

Close to 40 per cent of all US consumer PC sales will be made online in 2004, according to a new report from International Data Corp (IDC) released yesterday.

The report, titled "PCs and eCommerce: Forecast and Analysis of Online U.S. Consumer PC Sales" and authored by Keith Waryas, noted that only 8 per cent, or less than 1.4 million, PCs currently sold to US consumers were sold via the internet. But in 2004, that number will have jumped to 9.3 million PCs sold online, IDC said in a statement describing the report.

Contributing to the rise in online PC purchases are targeted marketing efforts, convenience, growing comfort with e-commerce and price, IDC said. The current penetration of PCs in US homes -- and the rapid rise of homes connecting to the internet -- also boost online PC sales, according to IDC.

Estimates from the Massachusetts-based company peg the number of US homes with at least one PC at 50 per cent and indicate that almost 36 per cent of US homes have internet access.

Price alone, however, is not enough to lure consumers into buying on the Internet, IDC said. The "nondollar" value, which includes increased confidence in the purchase and accessible service, will keep traditional bricks-and-mortar stores in competition with internet computer retailers, according to IDC, which expects to see the online computer shopping experience become more interactive.

Vendors cannot rely on direct sales, IDC said. Instead, they should seek out internet channel partners, which will be the main route for purchases and are better suited than manufacturers to handle sales and shipping, as well as economically selling complete systems, IDC added.

The most successful PC sellers, IDC said, will offer both internet and bricks-and-mortar outlets (clicks-and-mortar), but only if these elements are thoroughly integrated. To stay competitive, online sellers will need to incorporate product bundling, extended warranty and support options, affiliate marketing programs and possibly even leasing options, according to IDC.

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