"Drive-by" Internet Shopping Challenges Merchants

Accordingly to the 100 merchants (EG100) evaluated in the e-tailing group 13th Annual Mystery Shopping Study, merchants are "... reducing the clutter, raising the bar, embracing technology, and reaching beyond their websites to deliver a more polished customer experience..." says Lauren Freedman, President of the e-tailing group.

Slide shows to optimize key pages are being implemented by 57% of the merchants responding. Among the 70% of merchants who employ drop-down navigation menus, 69% of them are merchandised (i.e. new, sale, promos), enabling the creative and meaningful grouping of products.

Page layout is a newly tracked category page metric where 84% are merchandised while 27% simply present items in a grid format. Merchants often use a combination of the two techniques, says the report.

A slight decrease in the presence of product zoom may be attributed to merchants presenting an overall larger image and an array of images via alternative views. Video usage grew to 73% from 55% last year as merchants invest to inform.

Product Page Tactics (% of Respondents)

Tactic

4Q 2010

4Q2009

Ratings/reviews

87%

74%

Alternative views

80

76

Videos

73

55

View in a room

49

42

Guides/how-to

39

30

Source: e-tailing group, February 2011

Significantly, more carts are being merchandised (87% vs. 81%) with more relevant items (3.88 vs. 3.39) on a five-point scale. 

Pre-populating customer information in the checkout process has attained 96% penetration, up from 89% last year... one of the most efficient time-saving features a merchant can provide. Also adding to efficiency, more merchants are including a picture in the cart of the product being purchased (91% vs. 82%). 

As the online checkout process becomes smoother, clicks-to checkout continue to decline coming in at 5.13 down from 5.42. Post-order, better branding and merchandising of email confirmations indicates that merchants appreciate the marketing value of these communiqués as 89% of the EG100 now use HTML.

While the economy is slowly recovering, shoppers are still wary of promotions, and merchants know that merchandise discounts and free shipping offers are requisite.

Free shipping is the consumer expectation, and more aggressive steps are being taken by some merchants, which impacts all retailers. The percentage of merchants offering unconditional free shipping increased to 7% from 4%. Conditional free shipping for all products increased to 52% vs. 40%. A new metric indicates that 25% of the EG100 are granting free shipping to their frequent buyers.

There is a 25% increase in limited-time sales/specials, offered by 50% of these merchants, up from 40% last year, engaging shoppers and instilling an urgency to buy.

Promotional Tactics (% of Respondents)

Tactic

4Q 2010

4Q 2009

Online outlet/clearance areas

84%

83%

Limited time specials

50

40

Gift with purchase

50

46

Sweepstakes/contests

42

42

Internet-only sales/specials

29

24

Buy more/save more

28

27

Source: e-tailing group, February 2011

As social and sharing conventions become an important part of our culture, they are also pervading and becoming integrated within the online shopping experience.  83% of the sites in this study encourage shoppers to connect with their brands via one of the social media venues, up from just 60% last year.

The breakout social tactic is the "like" button, not even in existence on ecommerce sites in 2009. The 2010 study finds it integrated on 36% of the EG sites, with more joining the ranks every day.  In addition, blogs are present on one-half of the EG100 sites, up almost 39% from last year's 36% penetration

Social and Mobile Tactics (% of Respondents)

Tactic

4Q 2010

4Q 2009

Link to social networking site

83%

60%

   Facebook

96

85

   Twitter

87

73

   YouTube

43

35

Share

75

67

"Like" button

36

na

Source: e-tailing group, February 2011

Last year only 13% of the EG100 merchants had mCommerce sites. That tally is now at 44% with more sites going online daily.  Mobile alerts for customer engagement and communication is also being adopted but at a slower rate (29% vs. 21%).

Freedman concludes that "... merchants are challenged to engage shoppers in today's ‘drive-by shopping' environment... in this age of ecommerce anywhere, anytime, it is critical that shoppers can quickly find, sort, and buy product..."

For more about this research study, and the opportunity to purchase the study from e-tailing, please visit here.

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1 comment about ""Drive-by" Internet Shopping Challenges Merchants".
  1. Dan Verhaeghe from McLoughlin Promotions , February 17, 2011 at 11:22 a.m.

    There is also a mobile app called ShopSavvy that allows consumers to barcode scan using their smartphone for the lowest price possible.

    A recent study by Motorla found that 39% of consumers who barcode scanned products in stores ended up walking out because they found a better deal through their phone.

    With the advent of mobile commerce, these tech-savvy consumers are robbing traditional retailers of the sale.

    For more information on this giant problem, watch our video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyPSpZ4xnVU