2008 Online Retailer Holiday Strategies

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Shopzilla's 2008 eHoliday study, conducted for Shop.org, reveals some strategies that online retailers are taking this year to beat a sagging economy. The study surveyed 60 online retailers from October 1-20, as well as 2,040 online buyers from September 29-October 3. And while many fear a slow holiday shopping season, apparently online retailers feel differently. More than half (56.1%) expect holiday sales to increase at least 15% over last year. So how do retailers plan on boosting profits?

Many retailers will deploy improved website features to lure and maintain customers. Improved or added site search is cited as a popular strategy this year (42.9%) as are functionalities for consumers to evaluate offerings - product video (42.6%) and customer reviews (32.7%) - that are designed to drive conversions.

One of the more prominent offerings for consumers will be free shipping, or reduced shipping costs. More than three quarters of retailers (78%) plan on offering free shipping, with conditions, during the holiday season, by renegotiating terms with shipping providers and reducing other promotions.

Many retailers will also focus on promotion this year. Social networking comes into play, with a full 25% of survey respondents adding a Facebook page this year to attract consumers. Brick-and-mortar retailers plan on offering email registration in stores (74.3%), advertise their website in stores (71.4%) and offer the ability for store employees to place online orders for customers (51.4%).

And there's good reason for heavy promotion this year. Of the more than 2,000 consumers surveyed, 20.1% say they have less money to spend this year, while 10.6% cited a poor economy. One in ten plans to spend less this year online due to high shipping charges, while 33% cite free shipping as a top reason to buy online.

Looking at these results, there are few surprises. Consumers are focused on saving money, while retailers are focused on increasing conversions. What are you doing this year to attract consumers and drive sales?

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