July 1, 2010, 1:45 PM

Online retailers focus on navigation and content

Search marketing remains by far the biggest source of site traffic, a study says.

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The State of Retailing Online report, an annual study released this week by Forrester Research Inc. and Shop.org, shows that e-retailers are emphasizing improved site browsing and navigation in their web site development plans this year. Forrester Research conducts the annual study for Shop.org, which is the online retailing division of the National Retail Federation, a retail industry trade group.The report, “The State of Retailing Online 2010: Marketing, Social Commerce, and Mobile,” is based on a survey of more than 100 retailers in March and April.

When asked to name their top two priorities for site development this year, the largest group of respondents, 44%, cited improved browse and navigation features, followed by improved content on product pages, cited by 42%; site search results, 39%; and the checkout process, 33%.

Among other survey questions, the report also asked respondents to name their three most effective customer acquisition strategies. The largest group of respondents, 90%, cited search engine marketing; followed by affiliate programs, at 50%; organic traffic, 42%; and comparison shopping engines, 16%. (For a more complete list, see adjacent chart.)

A second half of the report, which was conducted in June for a later release, covers profitability, web site metrics and international markets.

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