Transforming the Multichannel Shopper: Getting Him to the Site

Welcome to the first in a series of articles based on a newly released report, “Transforming the Multichannel Shopper,” prepared by global retail consultancy J.C. Williams Group in partnership with digital marketing services firm StartSampling and e-commerce consultancy the E-tailing Group. The report is based on data from a survey of 2,472 online and offline shoppers conducted this past April.

If you aren’t yet posting customer reviews on your e-commerce site, you may want to think about doing so. Among the online shoppers surveyed for the “Transforming the Multichannel Shopper” report, 92% said that online customer reviews were “very” or “extremely” helpful as they made their shopping decision. Onsite reviews were in fact the highest-rated of the onsite features, outpacing keyword search (71%), store locators (68%), product comparison tools (64%), and image zoom/rotate features (64%), among others.

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Interestingly, survey respondents were less impressed with “sexier” features that have been garnering more attention lately. For instance, only 31% rated discussion boards and blogs as very or extremely helpful. Likewise, just 39% said the same of audio or video clips.

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As for what drove the respondents to the e-commerce site in the first place, the plurality (37%) used a search engine to find the site. While the fact that search engines were the top driver wasn’t a surprise, the fact that they were number one by only a slim margin was: A full third of the online shoppers surveyed said they went directly to the e-commerce site, entering the URL into the browser. This underscores the importance of promoting your URL in all your marketing communications, regardless of medium—especially if your URL doesn’t exactly correspond to your company name.

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Respondents who described themselves as information driven—“I had a specific product in mind but wanted to find out more information or compare features and products”—were most likely to use a search engine: 54% turned to an engine first. In contrast, only 24% of impulsive shoppers and 22% of the so-called conquerors (“I had a specific product in mind, knew where to buy it, and bought it right away”) kicked off their shopping experience with a search engine.

In fact, nearly half (49%) of the conquerors and more than a third (35%) of the impulsive buyers went directly to the e-commerce site. And whereas 24% of the info-driven shoppers comparison-shopped at more than one online store, just 10% of the conquerors and 9% of the impulsive shoppers did so.

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