May 29, 2009, 12:00 AM

Wooing the wary web shopper

Online consumers are more likely than ever to shop around for the best deals. E-retailers are responding with new marketing techniques, according to a survey by research and advisory firm The E-tailing Group.

Economic worries aside, 66% of retail executives say they expect web sales to rise this year over 2008, including 27% who expect increases of 26% or more, according to the 8th Annual Merchant Survey Report, based on a first-quarter 2009 survey of 190 e-commerce executives and released in April by research and advisory firm The E-tailing Group Inc. But more than in past years, online consumer behavior may impact sales performance of individual retailers, the report says, as shoppers spend more time browsing for the best deals. Online retailers are responding to the challenge by focusing on efforts like testing their web sites for usability and effective merchandising techniques, building a presence in social networks, and improving customer service. They’re also sharpening online marketing efforts to attract shoppers most likely to buy, and they’re building out multichannel strategies like in-store pickup of online orders. “Merchants who optimize e-commerce and multichannel potential will survive and thrive,” the report says.

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