Sonoma, CA—Be prepared to step up your online game by 2010, Patti Freeman Evans, retail analyst at New York-based JupiterResearch, told attendees of the third annual MarketLive E-Commerce Summit during her March 7 opening keynote address. In four years the number of online shoppers will have reached their max, and they will be looking for a merchant that gives them more than the lowest price.
As the amount of shopping influenced by the Internet increases (from 27% in 2005 to a projected 45% in 2010), attracting new customers and retaining them with quality customer service is the key to a lasting relationship. Evans instead said online retailers need to fight hard to create loyal customers by first examining their own business practices and what they offer the customer.
According to a JupiterResearch study, customers indicating that they are loyal to an online store even when offered discounts from competing stores dropped significantly, from 52% in 2003 to 40% in 2004. It was level, 41%, in 2005.
And while low prices indeed play a factor in where online shoppers make purchases—54% of those responded named it their top influence in 2005, a 32% increase over 2004—customers overwhelmingly said that online enhancements would bring them back to a merchant for a second purchase. Fifty-one percent of customers indicated this compared with 4% of Web retailers indicating they believed online enhancements would bring customers back. These enhancements include site personalization, rich product and service content, the ability for customers to use the site to manage their multichannel relationship, and offering a loyalty program.