Online shoppers find site search the most useful element of a retail web site by a wide margin, says a new consumer survey from consultants and researchers The E-tailing Group Inc. In fact keyword search, rated “very to most important” by 80% of consumers in the survey, and advanced search functionality, rated so by 67%, were the most highly ranked web site features.Next was product comparison tools, also at 67%, and customer ratings and reviews, at 60%.
Consumers use such tools frequently in their online shopping, the survey reports. 65% research products online before making gift purchases, 74% typically comparison shop three sites or more before making a purchase, 60% search directly at a favored merchant, and 54% browse multiple online stores before completing a purchase.
Consumers, no surprise, value bargains: 86% want free shipping and 76% want sales and specials, the E-tailing study reports. And they rank streamlined shopping highly. 69% want a perpetual shopping cart and 60% want one-page checkout.
What The E-tailing Group dubs “gifting tools” also are growing in importance to online shoppers. 47% want to be able to buy gift cards online vs. 43% a year ago; 41% want to send the different elements of a purchase to different addresses vs. 33% a year ago; and 31% want to create wish lists vs. 26% a year ago.
The survey of 1,500 online consumers who responded to an online questionnaire, also showed:
• 68% plan to spend about the same as last year;
• 44% anticipate spending in the $100-$500 range; 44% over $500;
• 53% intend to purchase 16 or more gifts;
• 74% expect to purchase about the same number of gifts online as last year.
The questionnaire, conducted by The E-tailing Group in October 2007 in conjunction with StartSampling, also asked consumers to name positive or negative experiences about shopping online. As positives, consumers cited free shipping and bargains; as negatives, high shipping costs or other shipping problems, return problems and out-of-stocks. But on a bright note, the E-tailing Group reported that more than half said they had had too many good experiences to name one or had not experienced anything too terrible while shopping online.
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