January 4, 2006, 12:00 AM

The Secret Sauce

(Page 3 of 3)

Free or reasonable shipping has been a tactic that has been debated since the beginning of shopping online. Typically, it has been category-based where if one leading merchant offers it, others follow suit. Also rather than presenting it unconditionally, merchants tend to select a threshold that ties in with increasing their average order and use that as a requirement to receive free shipping. In our Mystery Shopping survey, 46 out of 100 sites employed this tactic during the Q4 ‘04 selling period. Many struggled to find the perfect discounts, acknowledging that they’re trying to assess the appropriate percent off required to achieve the same conversion rates experienced with free shipping.

So many things support conversion. Delivering a solid brand proposition, clear marketplace positioning in a highly competitive world and driving qualified traffic are three essential requirements to succeed in any channel. Coupling these with best-in-class merchandising, marketing and customer service are the secret to selling and conversion.

A complete copy of this report is available at marketlive.com/go2report.

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