In a recent Shop.org eHoliday '09 survey, consumers were asked to give their top 10 reasons they would shop online this holiday season rather than head to brick-and-mortar stores. Many of the responses are expected, but a few stand out as good opportunities - and potential pitfalls - for online retailers. First, have a look at the top 10:
- 24-hour shopping convenience
- Ability to compare prices
- Free shipping offers
- Not wanting to fight crowds
- Ease of finding wanted items
- E-mail promotions
- Not having to pay sales tax
- Wanting to avoid checkout line
Reasons like convenience, price comparisons and not wanting to fight crowds are expected. A little unexpected is #8, e-mail promotions. This is a great opportunity for online retailers to grow their e-mail subscriber list for this holiday season and beyond. Of course, only those e-mail campaigns that provide real value to the consumer will be successful - be it e-mailed coupons, discount codes or special (and meaningful) product announcements.
Free shipping is high on the list, at #3. This is unsurprising and, for online retailers, almost expected at this point. However, when asked about return shipping, more than half of respondents stated that free shipping for returns is "very important" to them. This is an area where merchants can offer value over their competitors. According to Shop.org, Davis Sasson, CEO of overstockArt.com and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh believe that offering free return shipping "removes many of the fears, uncertainties and doubts of online shopping."
Finally, note #6 from the survey - ease of finding wanted items - bears watching. Make sure your site's search function is easy to locate and functions properly. Consumers expect online shopping to be fast and accurate when they are searching for what they want. Make it cumbersome and they will find another website to shop.
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