Online Shoppers’ Loyalty Behavior Is Complex

Online Shoppers’ Loyalty Behavior Is Complex

Consumers often seek the best value, and price is an important factor in determining purchase – but nearly half of online shoppers say they are “somewhat loyal to certain merchants based on a combination of good value, superior service and the right mix of product,” according to the just-released DoubleClick Performics/e-tailing group “Consumer Loyalty Survey.”

“Seven out of ten consumers shop multiple websites before making an online purchase to find the site offering the best deal,” said Stuart Frankel, president of DoubleClick Performics. Consumers want to feel they are getting the best value when buying online, including price, service and product mix, the study found.

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Free shipping, rebates/coupons, and clearance pricing (via an online outlet) rank high among promotional tactics that shoppers find important when deciding to go back to a website.

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Various product categories show growth potential (e.g., food, jewelry, sporting goods, pet supplies, furniture); others are already established (clothing, books, music, computer hardware and software), with a strong base of consumers.
 
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Some other key findings from the study:

  • 71% of shoppers browse multiple online stores prior to completing a purchase.
  • 42% of shoppers price-shop a product via comparison engines.
  • 48% of online shoppers surveyed describe their loyalty to merchants across channels (store, web, catalog) as somewhat loyal to certain merchants based on a combination of good value, superior service and the right mix of product.
  • 70% belong to a frequent buyer/loyalty program.
  • 53% rank discounts or exclusive offers for members as the most important feature of frequent buyer/loyalty programs.
  • In deciding whether to go back to a website, online order tracking was rated as very important by 56% of those surveyed.
  • Shopping patterns vary by gender: men are less loyal and women more apt to register or be influenced by promotional mail.
  • Poor service is ranked – by 41% – as most likely to deter shoppers from becoming loyal to a website.
  • Rewards customers (those belonging to 2+ programs) are less apt to be focused on price, utilizing more features and tools to enhance their multi-channel shopping experiences.
  • At least half of the shoppers surveyed indicated purchasing clothing, books, music, computer-ware and toys online.
  • Free shipping remains the most important enticement to drive customers back to sites.

Between March 29 and April 12, the e-tailing group and DoubleClick Performics conducted loyalty-related research to gather feedback from online shoppers who spend at least $500 annually and make online purchases 4 times per year or more. A panel of 1,000 qualified consumers completed the online survey.

The study focused on discovering what factors impact loyalty to any particular merchant online and across other available channels, the extent of participation in frequent buyer/loyalty programs, features most important to online shoppers, and factors that deter shoppers from becoming loyal to a website.