Study: Online Retailers Get Back to DM Basics

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Retailers are placing greater emphasis on traditional direct marketing practices in their Web site design, according to a study released yesterday by the Direct Marketing Association.


The study was conducted during the fourth quarter of 2001 in conjunction with Chicago-based the e-tailing group. One hundred e-commerce sites in 16 product categories were scanned to locate 102 features and functions in areas such as search, profiling, established and promotional merchandising, community, cross-channel, product enhancement, and customer service.


"After nearly a decade of learning what works in the online marketplace, retailers are getting back to basics and focusing on factors that build the bottom line," said DMA president/CEO H. Robert Wientzen. "They are placing less emphasis on features such as community that do not guarantee a solid return."


The top 10 ways online retailers are building their bottom lines, according to the DMA are:


1. Developing content that addresses the nuances of product categories, customer base and distribution channels. This is especially important in product categories such as electronics, where consumers need detailed information to make a buying decision.


2. Using interactive technology to add value to the online shopping experience and increase sales.


3. Minimizing the number of clicks needed to check out and reduce shopping times to avoid cart abandonment.


4. Communicating with customers via targeted e-mails that include merchandising tactics and provide timely accurate responses to customer service inquiries.


5. Investing in search technology that allows consumers to search by multiple factors.


6. Encouraging additional purchases by offering relevant cross-sells and up-sells throughout the site.


7. Offering timely gift services, including gift centers and comprehensive gift searches.


8. Providing real-time online information about product availability and order status.


9. Structuring promotional offers without forfeiting profitability.


10. Consistently integrate multichannel efficiencies for customer convenience and operational cost savings.


The study is available from The DMA Online Store at www.the-dma.org. The price is $195 for DMA members and $395 for non-members.


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