In an effort to track how shoppers are using retail web sites and define premium position within site search results new research found that 94% of shoppers click between one and 10 products, and from there, they look for price, product features and preferred brands as key differentiators.
The study revealed that two-thirds of consumers begin the shopping process online, and that half convert offline. The path to purchase, in most cases, starts with a combination of search engine and site search on retail web sites for price, brand and feature information, as shoppers surveyed consult an average of 4.1 information sources during the process. The study further highlights that rankings matter in site search much like they do in search engine marketing: shoppers associate relevance and quality with products on the first page of search results.
“We’ve witnessed retailers getting better at providing a robust on-site search experience. It makes sense that consumers have come to rely upon the rich information provided by retail sites and that marketers embrace this new reality,” said John Federman, President and CEO of Searchandise Commerce. “We wanted to better understand how retail site search worked as a complement to search engines, and we’ve now quantified our assumptions about the value and the ways retail on-site search mirrors search engine marketing. In both, attaining top position in search results is key to winning a higher share of clicks and sales.”
The research examined general purchase habits, a consumer’s path to purchase including the information resources and locations visited, online and offline shopping motivations, and site search position perceptions and behavior. Key findings include:
The study participants were asked a series of questions about their impressions of various retail sites. The findings drawn about retail sites from their responses indicated that shoppers seek “less clutter” and want more ease of use:
That said, respondents said pop-ups or advertising should not be displayed, pricing and product information should be clearly listed and product comparison tools should be provided on the web site.
Products appearing in the top section of a site search results page, or within the first 10 – 15 results after using the site search box, carry additional weight for shoppers. Those products were identified by shoppers as best meeting their needs, of highest quality, and most relevant to their search.
Path to Purchase
The study highlighted the need for e-tailers to work cohesively across channels. Two-thirds of shoppers begin their process online; with 1 in 5 starting at a retail site (the most frequent starting point among all retail shoppers); one in 10 starting at a physical store.
Search engine usage is close behind retail web sites as where shoppers start their search. Only 3% start their search by consulting a blog or a social networking site.
Shoppers who begin their search on retail sites (19%) either purchase directly on the retail site or navigate to a manufacturer site for further details, then either visit a search engine or physical store. Of this group, nearly half buy in the physical store, while 40% transact online.
“This study makes one thing clear: Search engines and retail websites are the first places consumers turn to when they are ready to shop,” said Robert Murray, CEO of iProspect. “And they are tapping into search engines to find more than just a retailer’s product page from their web site; they are searching for customer and expert reviews, competitive pricing, and third party product recommendations,”
Murray said marketers can’t afford to have their offerings fail to show up in the search results. To remain competitive, they must have a holistic search strategy that understands and addresses a variety of information for all of the products they sell, including specific brands, prices, makes, models, features and functionalities.