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etailing-website-features-that-influence-shoppers-nov11.gif73% of consumers rate unconditional free shipping as a top 2 very important or critical feature when making a purchase from a website, according to [download page] an October 2011 study from the e-tailing group. Data from “The Connected Consumer” indicates that free returns are also a top 2 important feature to 70% of consumers, followed by sales and specials sections (62%), availability of coupons or rebates (56%), and discounts on products or categories (54%). Buy more to save more (34%) and free gift with purchase offer (31%) tactics are the least important to consumers.

Free Shipping Tops for Engagement, Too

Free shipping offers appear to also be influential on social networks: 60% of consumers say they would engage with a retailer or brand manufacturer on a social networking site as a result of a free shipping offer, while 46% would be influenced to make a purchase on the site as a result of the offer. Meanwhile, exclusive discounts and daily deals would influence roughly half of consumers to engage with a retailer on a social networking site, and about 2 in 5 to make a purchase. Likes, however, are relatively unimportant to consumers: less than one-quarter would engage with a brand or make a product purchase as a result of it receiving numerous likes, while just 1 in 5 would do so if a friend had liked the product.

Product Images and Reviews Essential

When viewing a merchant’s product page online, the quality of the image, along with the ability to view it from alternate angles or in a color of choice are top 2 critical features to a majority of consumers. A majority of consumers also cite peer ratings and reviews, along with product comparisons, as top 2 considerations. By contrast, social features such as email-a-friend, like or share buttons, are top 2 very important features to less than one-third of consumers.

Price Trumps All

e-tailing-selection-criteria.jpgThe vast majority of consumers (79%) rate price as a top 2 very important or critical driver in selecting a product, far ahead of the ability to purchase online for home delivery (63%) and the ability to get the product quickly (55%). Reviews and referrals, by contrast, rate relatively poorly: peer reviews on visited websites is a top 2 motivator to only 33%, trailed only by word-of-mouth advice from friends (26%) and advice from a consumer’s online community (15%).

Compete: Free Shipping Drives Online Purchases

Free shipping is the feature most likely to encourage shoppers to purchase more goods online by a wide margin, according to a September 2011 white paper from Compete. Data from the study indicates that in Q2 2011, 77% of consumers said free shipping would encourage them to purchase more products online. In comparison, 56% cited free returns, the second-most-popular feature. This means free shipping is 39% more popular than any other online shopping feature. No other feature garnered a 50% response rate, with 43% of consumers saying an in-store return option would encourage them to purchase more products online.

About the Data: The e-tailing group’s findings are based on an online survey of 1,035 consumers in September 2011. The respondents shopped online 4 or more times in the past year and typically spend $500 or more online annually.

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