Retailers must find ways to appeal to time-harried shoppers or risk losing customers, finds report; online merchants increasingly trying to distinguish themselves from their competitors

LOS ANGELES , February 22, 2012 () – According to a report by The E-tailing Group Inc., retailers must find ways to appeal to time-harried shoppers or risk losing customers, Internet Retailer reported Feb. 21.

"Consumers are continually looking for efficiencies in order to fit everything into their hectic lifestyles,” said E-tailing Group senior analyst Kylee Magno, “They started shopping online to reduce time spent driving to store locations and have 24/7 availability then quickly adopted mobile commerce in order to further reduce limitations on how and where they made a purchase. Merchants who put road blocks in front of this shoppers will see the repercussions in the form of declining sales."

The report, which was released on Feb. 21, is based upon data collected during The E-tailing Group’s 14th annual Mystery Shopping Study.

The 14th Mystery Shopping Study, which was conducted during the fourth quarter of 2011, examined the features of100 large e-commerce sites that were spread across a variety of 13 consumer product categories.

The E-tailing Group found that merchants are increasingly attempting to increase the speed by which customers can find their desired products.

The following is a list of features offered by the websites that were included in the study, following by the percentages of retailers that offered a given feature in 2010 and 2011:

        • Advanced search options: 21%, 39%
        • Drop-down or fly-out navigational menus: 70%, 81%
        • Creatively leveraging real estate to promote items in fly-out menus: 69%, 77%

In addition, the report noted that 93% of the analyzed e-commerce sites allow shoppers to refine their search results.

The E-tailing Group’s report found that online retailers were also increasing the amount of effort that they devoted to trying to distinguish themselves from their competitors.

The following is a list of ways that merchants tried to distinguish themselves from their competitors, followed by the percentages of retailers that did them in 2010 and 2011:

        • Brand boutiques, 76%, 89%
        • Allowing users to refine search results via brand: 64%, 79%
        • Enabling users to shop by brand: 75%, 84%

The primary source of this article is Internet Retailer, Chicago, Illinois, on Feb. 21, 2012.

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