One of our team members attended an on-demand retail webinar to learn more about how White Lion can help their e-commerce clients grow online sales from their retail storefronts. The event was conducted by Omniture, an online business optimization provider. The topic centered on growing holiday sales as consumers grow savvier in their online shopping experience.
E-commerce sites are constantly striving for ways to improve the online retail experience for their consumers and to drive sales by turning a “browser” into a “purchaser.” There are some good tips worth sharing that require varying levels of commitment.
What do consumers want from their online retail experience?
- Early access to shipping information is the top rated “must have” among online consumers.
- Ability to view accumulating shipping costs while shopping.
- Ability to refine search results.
- Ability to check-out without registering.
Consumers today demand their online retailer make the shopping experience and evaluation of products easier through standard tools such as multiple product pictures and product information quick views. A great example of a leader in this area is gap.com.
Savvy consumers also want to read product reviews from users that have purchased the item. By adding social networking features to the retail site, a retailer increases sales and reduces shopping cart abandonment rates. Austin-based, BazaarVoice, is quickly establishing themselves as a leader in consumer reviews.
What are the top reasons consumers leave the site?
Abandonment rates are a frustrating reality for online retailers. When consumers were asked why they leave a site without purchasing, the answers are useful in building tools to decrease the drop-off from browsing to purchasing.
- Not ready to purchase.
- Shipping costs too high.
- Want to compare prices on other sites.
- Wanted to save in a cart for later.
- Did not want to register on the site.
Earlier, the survey noted that consumers want to see the shipping rates very early in the process and update as new items are added. A top reason for the abandonment rate is high shipping costs. At the same time, the surveyors conclude the earlier the shipping costs are displayed, the fewer consumers will drop out of the purchase process.
As the holidays approach, the shipping cut-off dates for delivery guarantees become very important. However, it is important to note, consumers tend to not stop a purchase transaction because of the cutoff dates.
How important are the shipping costs?
It is a myth that shipping costs are the root cause of abandonment rates for online retailing. While a majority of consumers will answer that shipping costs are very important, only 14% of people shop with the “must-have free shipping” as part of their experience. Additionally, consumers are not shopping for free shipping products. Only 18% of consumers surveyed bought unplanned items because they offered free shipping. Consumers know what they are looking for when they visit an online retailer. Free shipping is not always a silver-bullet incentive to increase same-store sales.
During the holiday season, retailers are often surprised by consumer browsing and high abandonment rates for items receiving heavy publicity. The “Buyer Deal Addiction” has caught retailers off guard, including such giants as Wal-Mart and Amazon.com. Consumers search for the best deals on items receiving heavy publicity. Twenty-four percent of shoppers made sure to get the lowest price and 15% only bought at stores where they would receive a discount. Another 15% only bought where they would receive free shipping.
Overall, shipping costs are important to the online retail costs insofar as transparency and early notification. The shipping costs may guide a consumer through their online experience, however they are not the “drive to the site” go-to promotion. The exception may be in those areas where specific items have received heavy publicity in various media outlets.
Implementing the improvements to your online retail site can enhance the shopping experience for your consumers, decrease your overall abandonment rate and drive consumers to best-sellers.
The speakers were:
- Patti Freeman Evans, Jupiter Research Senior Retail Analyst
- Josh Dahmer, Omniture’s Senior Retail Consultant
- Seth More, Overstock.com’s Manager of Website Marketing
White Lion can provide a thorough evaluation of your e-commerce site to find new ways to improve the experience for consumers. If building your online sales is on your strategic plan, it’s never too early to get started with adding the tools that will increase sales.
Contact us to schedule an evaluation of your site today.
Steve C. Kahle – Managing Principal – White Lion Internet Agency