COLUMBUS, March 6, 2001 – While online retailers offer a variety of site features, most of these features, with the exception of search capabilities and “close-up” product views, are never used by the majority of online shoppers. A recent survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the world’s largest professional services organisation, indicates that not only are search capabilities and product information important to online shoppers when selecting an online shopping site, but they can help e-retailers turn shoppers into buyers and make the online shopping experience more like the on-land.
Search Function and Product Information Are Tops Search functions are the most popular online shopping feature. The majority of online shoppers – 77 percent – have used a search function while shopping online and most of these users are satisfied enough with search functions to use them on a regular basis.
After search engines, the group of online shopping site features used next most often and next most regularly have to do with product information – including zoom in images, product reviews, and in-stock status.
In addition to being the most popular features, survey results indicate that search capabilities and product information are most important to online shoppers when selecting an online shopping site. Search functionality and product information are ranked as the most important online shopping features by 43 percent and 40 percent of online shoppers, respectively.
Other online shopping site features such as customer service, personalization, and wish lists, are used by a smaller percentage of online shoppers and are less important to online shoppers when selecting an online shopping site.
Converting Shoppers into Buyers Online shopping site features such as search engines, certain product information features, and customer service capabilities such as catalog quick order and a 1-800 number to contact a customer service representative can help e-retailers turn shoppers into buyers.
“The features that are most likely to increase the likelihood that an online shopper will make an online purchase at that site tend to be features that make the online shopping experience more like on-land shopping,” commented Mary Brett Whitfield, Columbus-based Director of the PricewaterhouseCoopers E-Retail Intelligence System®. “When shopping on land, consumers “search” through the merchandise, narrow the selection for a “close-up” view, have immediate access to availability, compare products, ask other shoppers their opinions, and seek out customer service representatives when additional assistance is needed,” she continued.
Features Most Likely to Increase Likelihood of Purchasing
% of Shoppers Indicating Feature Increases Feature Purchase Likelihood
“Close-up” product images 44% Product availability 39 Product comparison guides 34 Search function 30 1-800 Number to contact customer service representative 25 Product comparison guides 24 Catalog quick order 24
Source: E-Retail Intelligence System Internet Users Consumer Panel, January 2001, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
Adding Value to the Online Shopping Experience As retailers have launched second- and successive-generation online shopping sites, features such as wish lists, gift ideas, and the ability to personalize a site based on who the shopper is shopping for are increasingly available. However, the vast majority of shoppers have never used many of these features. Even when shoppers do use the new features, they do not necessarily have the impact retailers intended. For example, only 19 percent of online shoppers have ever used wish lists on online shopping sites. Among the shoppers who have used wish lists, only 13 percent report they have forwarded filled out wish lists to friends and family.
“There is much that e-retailers can do to improve the online shopping experience, but bombarding shoppers with numerous “bells and whistles” is not a sound strategy,” commented Whitfield. “E-retailers must monitor how consumers use current site features closely and not be afraid to remove those that do not expedite or add value to the shopping process.” She added, “E-retailers need to avoid the technology trap – just because something is technologically possible does not mean that online shoppers need or want it.”
Every month, the PricewaterhouseCoopers E-Retail Intelligence System® surveys approximately 500 Internet users regarding online shopping behavior and attitudes and Internet usage. The survey findings are weighted to mirror the Internet user population on four variables: sex, age of head of household, annual household income, and Internet access frequency (e.g., more than once a day, once a day, etc.) The January 2001 survey was fielded from January 31 to February 5, 2001 and yielded a sample of 547 Internet Users who have ever shopped online.
About PricewaterhouseCoopers The Management Consulting Services practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers helps clients maximize their business performance by integrating strategic change, process improvements and technology solutions. Through a worldwide network of skills and resources, consultants manage complex projects with global capabilities and local knowledge, from strategy through implementation. PricewaterhouseCoopers (www.pwcglobal.com) is the world’s largest professional services organisation. Drawing on the knowledge and skills of more than 150,000 people in 150 countries, we help our clients solve complex business problems and measurably enhance their ability to build value, manage risk and improve performance in an Internet-enabled world.
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