The 2010 holiday season exceeded all expectations offline where retail sales rebounded rising 5.5% up from 3% predictions earlier in the year according to NRF. The Internet also performed to expectation seeing greater adoption as US Internet sales rose 15.4% to $36.4 billion where sales over the Internet now account for about 10% of all retail sales. Category increases were led by Apparel (11.2%), Jewelry (8.4%) and Luxury Goods (6.7%). Sales started early with Cyber Monday marking the first billion-dollar spending day in ecommerce history (1 of 6 days in 2010), and the first time we’ve witnessed Cyber Monday ranking as the heaviest online spending day of the year. Promotions came early and lasted throughout the year while mobile and social made inroads likely to have impact for a long time to come.
In this age of ecommerce anywhere, anytime, it is critical that the customers can quickly find, sort, and buy products. Accordingly merchants are reducing the clutter – raising the bar, embracing technology and reaching beyond the website to deliver a polished customer experience.
Knowing it’s not just what they sell, but how it is presented that can turn browsers into buyers, retailers have found creative ways to optimize key pages. They are honing in on essential features and functionality while utilizing real estate more efficiently to reduce the clutter and create a simple to shop environment. From grouping merchandise into more meaningful categories to expanded content, overall sites are becoming more streamlined paying greater attention to consumer needs.
The state of merchandising online sees a more sophisticated selling experience from search to adoption of category-centric tools that elevate the customer experience. Merchants are challenged to engage shoppers in today’s drive-by shopping environment so the right experience must be applied to even gain the customer’s attention let alone their wallet. Tactical selection continues to be defined by one’s category and customer base where relevance is being employed to better target and convert customers. Technology is also evolving at a frenetic pace not seen since the advent of the Internet. As ecommerce continues to evolve, those who focus on the nuances that make shopping more convenient, efficient, and personal will be positioned to thrive.
Best-in-class customer service is fundamental as merchants look to differentiate themselves from their competition and capture greater market share. Sadly we see too many merchants where touch points provide poor information, unsatisfactory customer experiences and ultimately degrade one’s brand. Nine Merchants meet the e-tailing group’s criteria for excellence in online customer service where customer service, satisfaction, and choice differentiate these leading e-tailers.
Our 13th Annual Mystery Shopping Study summarizes the State of Shopping Online Shopping looking at the merchandising and customer service performance of 100 merchants who comprise the EG100.
In conjunction with this research the e-tailing group has released the Customer Experience Index results, leveraging quantitative analysis to uniquely understand how merchants stack-up against the e-tailing 100 websites (EG100), direct competitors, and their categories. These merchants can provide an interesting point of reference from which to evolve and elevate any ecommerce site in 2011.
Findings from the complete 13th Annual Mystery Shopping Study will be summarized in a report which is available to purchase and download in early February.