January 31, 2006, 12:00 AM

The Multi-Channel Imperative

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Assess needs and expectations of first-time and infrequent site visitors. The greatest opportunity for retailers to grow their business in the coming year is to understand the online shopping experiences of first-time and infrequent visitors. Navigation, product information, merchandise selection and even price can perceived very differently by first-time and infrequent visitors than by regular customers and can influence their purchase behavior both online and offline. Identifying how to improve the online shopping experience for the infrequent visitors can make the critical difference in converting holiday site visitors to long-term loyal multi-channel customers.

Communicate promotions, policies and in-stock status clearly and early. When site visitors find out the details of promotional offers, in-stock status, shipping and return policies in the later check-out stages of the shopping cart process, it leads to frustration that is likely to impact future purchases both online and through other channels. Retailers should make this information clear and readily available early in the shopping process for a more satisfying online shopping experience that will reinforce future loyalty among multi-channel shoppers.

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