May 3, 2011, 3:29 PM

Online retailers seek revenue gains and increased consumer loyalty through e-mails

The E-tailing Group finds that most retailers also introduce products via e-mail.

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Retailers use e-mail marketing messages most often to gain incremental revenue, persuade consumers to purchase more regularly, introduce products and boost loyalty, suggest survey results released today by The E-tailing Group, a research firm that focuses on online retailing.

The findings are part of the firm’s 10th Annual Merchant Survey and are based on first quarter surveys of 200 respondents involved in e-commerce. Asked to rate their top use of e-mail, 91% of respondents said to drive incremental revenue; 89% said to increase purchase frequency; 81% said to introduce products; and 80% said to improve loyalty.

The report also highlights how several web merchants in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide have used their e-mail marketing messages to further those aims.

• Apparel retailer Levi Strauss & Co., No. 337, offers free shipping to shoppers who place an order the same day as they receive the e-mail message.

• Beauty supplies retailer Sephora USA Inc., No. 112, personalizes e-mail messages with the name of the receipient on her birthday.

• Housewares and home furnishings retailer Williams-Sonoma Inc., No. 26, offers via an e-mail a loyalty program membership for $30, which entitles the consumer to free shipping for a year and other special offers.

• Women’s apparel retailer Forever 21, No. 430, includes in the footer of e-mails links to the retailer’s blog and ways for consumers to share information about the retailer.

• Office supplies retailer Office Depot Inc., No. 5, sends out messages that remind consumers to replenish stocks of frequently purchased products.

Lauren Freedman, president of The E-tailing Group, will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2011 in a session entitled "The changing role of the online merchant: Art vs. science."

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