TECHNOLOGY

Study: Retailers see opportunity in online customer behavior

BY Dan Berthiaume

Most retailers expect their e-commerce revenue to increase, according to a new study from Boston Research Partners (BRP).

According to “The E-commerce Effect,” 74% of retailers expect an increase in e-commerce revenue next year, and 72% expect higher mobile website revenue. Less than half of retailers expect revenue growth from channels such as mobile app (49%), social media (47%), and brick-and-mortar (38%).

Online consumer shopping trends lend support to these expectations. Eighty-nine percent of consumers browse merchandise online and 81% purchase merchandise online at least once per month. Eighty-two percent have shopped and reviewed products online and then purchased them in the store, while 62% compare prices online before visiting a store.

In response to the increasingly omnichannel nature of shopping, retailers are increasingly developing unified commerce offerings that present a single, seamless customer experience. The leading unified commerce priority is creating a consistent brand experience across channels (59%), followed by improving online experience (52%).

Lower percentages of retailers plan to offer features such as improved personalization (45%) and mobile shopping experience (41%), decreased cost of delivering to customers (32%), enhanced customer service (18%), and increased convergence of digital and physical shopping environments (18%).

Looking specifically at what capabilities retailers’ e-commerce sites offers, the study finds at best four in 10 retailers say key features such as order history (41%) are implemented and working well. Even fewer retailers describe the state of important customer-facing site offerings such as order status (33%), FAQs (30%), shipping/delivery tracking/notifications (30%), browsing history (23%), loyalty status (16%), and live chat (16%) as implemented and working well.

“Since consumers use digital devices throughout the shopping journey to research product information, compare prices and read consumer reviews, providing as much relevant information via the retailer’s website helps keep customers loyal to the brand,” said Jeffrey Neville, senior VP and practice lead at BRP. “As e-commerce continues to represent a greater share of retailers’ revenue mix, it is imperative that retailers continue to enhance their online capabilities to keep up with their competitors that are just a click away.”

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