October 25, 2013, 2:51 PM

Pinterest, Google ads and inventory are e-retail holiday priorities

Shop.org also says 27% of merchants will start free shipping earlier this year.

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Online retailers this holiday shopping season will increase their Pinterest marketing, use image-centric Google Product Listing Ads more often and keep higher inventory levels than last year, suggest new survey results from Shop.org.

The e-commerce arm of the National Retail Federation trade group also says that 27% of merchants selling on the web will offer free shipping earlier in the season than they did last year. The survey also found that 13.6% of respondents plan to lower the minimum purchase amount required to qualify for free shipping—that’s in contrast to Amazon.com Inc.’s recent raising of its free shipping minimum for one of its e-commerce delivery options. None of the retailers planned to raise the threshold for free shipping.

Shop.org arrived at its findings through a survey of 47 online retailers conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics between June 10 and June 27, and another 44 online retailers between Sept. 4 and Sept. 23. “Retailers have been preparing for holiday for months, smartly investing in what’s important to online shoppers: value, free shipping, a user-friendly site, and flexible returns, among other features,” says Shop.org executive director Vicki Cantrell.

The survey also found that:

• 59.5% of respondents said they would increase use of Pinterest this holiday season compared with last year. That compares with 54.8% who said the same about Facebook and 32.6% for Twitter. 78% of the retailers in the 2013 Top 500 Guide are active on Pinterest.

• 68.2% of merchants expect increased use of Google Product Listing Ads. Product Listing Ads, commonly called PLAs, show images, prices and other information in the center of a Google search results page; they replaced free comparison shopping ads late in 2012. In a recent Internet Retailer exclusive survey—the full results of which will appear in the November issue of Internet Retailer magazine—nearly 59% of e-retailer respondents said they would increase spending on Google Product Listing Ads in the coming year, with about 29% planning to decrease spending and the rest expecting their PLA budgets to remain the same.

• 70.5% of respondents plans to maintain higher inventory levels this year compared with the 2012 holiday shopping season; 6.8% plan lower levels. 18.2% plan to use drop shippers to delivery merchandise directly to consumers and 15.9% will increase their focus on private-label or lower-priced products. (The percentages add up to more than 100% because e-retailers could select more than one answer.)

• 13.6% of respondents will increase emphasis on buy online, pickup in store fulfillment programs this holiday season.

 

 

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