Press Releases

4th Quarter 2007 – 10th Annual Mystery Shopping Study

January 22, 2008

Merchandising Features That Facilitate Experiential or Express Shopping Fuel Online Channel Growth

January 22, 2008 Chicago, IL: It is no wonder that online sales increased 19 percent (comScore) for Holiday ’06 while offline sales rose just 3 percent (National Retail Federation) as it is easier than ever for consumers to shop “my way” via the web. The e-tailing’s group 10th Annual Mystery Shopping Study measured over 200 metrics on 100 consumer e-commerce sites in the fourth quarter of 2006, finding both an increased presence and better execution of features that either deliver a richer, more robust experience or faster, more efficient shopping.

Lauren Freedman, President of the e-tailing group observes. “Depending upon the situation, shopper styles change. At times expediency is the driver; on other occasions more information or guidance is required for shoppers to make confident buying decisions. The Internet continues to evolve as a commerce channel by emulating real-world practices and by using technology to improve upon them in ways that appeal to all.”

Benchmarks from the e-tailing group’s Mystery Shopping Study illustrate these trends.

Penetration of merchandising features is based on a percent of the sites where offered (in parentheses with year-over-year for 2007/2006 indicated).

Moving beyond generic category information, e-sites are replete with features that help shoppers dig deeper to learn, compare, and share.

  • An increased use of rich media is observed throughout sites with creative applications extending to video reviews and enhancements offered on a greater percent of product pages
2007 2006 % increase
Zoom 86% 81% + 5%
Alternative Views 66% 57% + 9%
Color Change 57% 46% + 11%
Audio 47% 41% + 6%
Video 45% 38% + 7%
Source: the e-tailing group 10th Annual Mystery Shopping Study, 4Q 2007

  • More suggestive selling via up-sells and cross-sells on both the product page (96%/90%) and in the shopping cart (79%/72%)
  • Customer-generated ratings and reviews (50%/38%) are exponentially present as social shopping prevails
  • Unique category needs are being addressed via tools like shop by outfit (40%/24%)
  • Product comparison tools (28%/28%) and guides/how to’s (58%/67%) are becoming prioritized by merchants who require them to educate their customer versus across the board execution while tips/glossaries (54%/48%) are more apt to provide a knowledge base

Tools that emphasize convenience, expedite the shopping process, and offer cross-channel immediacy meet the demands of today’s time-starved shoppers.

  • Advanced search (23%/17%) and landing page sorts (81%/78%) make it easier to find desired products with sorts appealing to varied shopper styles.
2007 2006 % increase
Price low/high 90% 88% + 2%
Price high/low 81% 76% + 5%
Best sellers/top sellers 56% 54% + 2%
Product name/alpha 43% 27% + 16%
New arrivals 42% 37% + 5%
Ratings 20% 14% + 6%
Source: the e-tailing group 10th Annual Mystery Shopping Study, 4Q 2007
  • View all (59%/36%) enables a quick overview of products offered
  • Recently viewed (34%/27%) and perpetual shopping carts (72%/55%) keep shoppers on track while ultimately saving time
  • Multiple-ship to addresses (54%/38%) appeal to harried gift buyers
  • Refer/email a friend (74%/68%) fosters viral connections
  • Retail locators (100%/97%), store product locators (20%/15%) and in-store pick-up (19%/18%) aid shoppers seeking store-related services

To summarize Freedman states, “In 2006 we headline our Mystery Shopping Survey news, ‘Customers Take Control of the Online Shopping Experience’ and that remains the status-quo a year later. Very few merchants have the luxury of focusing on a single shopper style. To generate sales growth tools that empower quick-shoppers, surgical shoppers, and researchers as well as deal seekers, gift-givers, and those looking for hard-to-find items must all be in place.”

About the e-tailing group, inc.
The e-tailing group, inc. serves as the multi-channel merchant’s eye, bringing a merchant’s sensibility to evolving the multi-channel shopping experience. A Chicago-based consultancy, they provide practical strategic perspectives and actionable merchandising solutions to merchants selling online as well as to enabling technology firms.

For more background about this research study, including a list of merchants surveyed or for additional information on the e-tailing group, inc. please contact Lauren Freedman at or visit the e-tailing group website

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