As the Internet continues to mature, so will consumers’ shopping habits, causing online retail to spiral upward and onward. Eleven million more US consumers will take the eCommerce plunge this year, pushing online retail spending beyond $38 billion. According to the new Technographics® Retail & Media Data Overview from Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR), the result of this impressive growth is an online retail landscape where the Web buyers’ profiles and the product categories they buy from are vastly different from those even one year ago.

“When we started surveying online consumers three years ago, Web buyers were a homogeneous group consisting of affluent males who used the Net to purchase software,” said Christopher M. Kelley, associate analyst at Forrester. “As new Web shoppers — who increasingly resemble the offline population — become more comfortable shopping online, their Net spending habits will mirror those currently seen with experienced Web shoppers.”

Two factors will promote the growth of the online retail market in the next year. First, Web buyers are confidently shopping across new product categories, with the most money being spent on researched products, including travel, computer hardware, and consumer electronics. Second, although the core of online shoppers are generally male, younger, and more affluent than the online population as a whole, the new Web buyer is more likely to be female, younger, and less affluent than more experienced online shoppers — for the first time, more than half of new buyers are female.

Conversely, the fear of releasing credit card information remains the single most significant factor for online consumers who do not purchase on the Net. Nearly half of online consumers in the US and Canada have caught the eCommerce bug. Fifty-two percent of online households do not shop online due to fear of stolen credit card information and the distribution of personal information.

While consumers embrace new shopping options, they expect a stream of innovations, reasonable prices, and promotions to keep coming. Experienced Web buyers embrace online auctions, drawn in by the fun of bidding and the possibility of acquiring a great deal. Ninety-four percent of online shoppers are also concerned with unreasonable shipping prices, with 44% having abandoned an online shopping cart due to shipping costs.

Online consumers have opened their inboxes to marketing, with 95% of Web buyers receiving offers or promotions via email. Online coupon and promotion companies lead the email marketing race, filling the greatest number of inboxes of online shoppers and nonbuyers alike. Although consumers receive marketers’ email, a full 32% of email targets delete most marketing messages before even reading them.

Web buyers have also grown more discriminate in the publications they read. “Online shoppers are no longer just techies who sit around reading Wired all day long,” added Kelley. “Instead, the top three magazines they subscribe to include Readers’s Digest, TV Guide, and Better Homes and Gardens.”

For the “Retail & Media Data Overview,” Forrester conducted two surveys about consumers’ shopping and media consumption behavior — collecting a total of more than 100,000 completed surveys. In addition to the completed surveys, Forrester also conducts semiannual Field Studies specific to the affluent, consumer technology, personal finance, travel, and young consumers markets. Technographics Retail & Media is part of Forrester’s Technographics Data & Analysis — the industry’s most comprehensive quantitative research program analyzing how today’s technology impacts consumer attitudes and behavior.