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The Future of Online Retail
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What do customers want from your ecommerce site, and how can online retailers get shoppers to buy more and more often? The Walker Sands 2014 Future of Retail study has some helpful answers.

First, there’s good news for online retailers: Online shopping has reached a “tipping point”—fewer than 1 percent of consumers never shop online, while 62 percent shop online at least once a month.

Now that the majority of Americans are potential customers for your site, how can you get them to spend more? Take a cue from online retail giant Amazon, which, according to the report, is by far the number-one site online shoppers turn to and trust. While Walker Sands acknowledges that small businesses can’t compete with Amazon in terms of price, the report does offer some suggestions for how small businesses can compete in other ways. Specifically:

  • Offer free shipping and returns. Although this does cost money, the report says the investment can pay off for retailers in a big way because knowing they can return the products for free prompts consumers to be more confident in their purchases, buy bigger-ticket items and place larger orders. For instance, 30 percent of consumers will spend more than $1,000 on a product online if they get free shipping and returns, while just 10 percent would do so without free shipping and returns.
  • Provide an omnichannel purchasing experience. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of consumers report using a mobile device to research products while in a brick-and-mortar store. Your business needs to provide a seamless experience, whether shoppers are in your store, on a phone or tablet, or on a desktop or laptop computer. Make it easy for shoppers to buy products online and return them in-store, or to order out-of-stock products from your website while they’re in-store.
  • Provide greater personalization. Forty-four percent of consumers “strongly agree” or “agree” they would like to get product recommendations based on their past purchases. You can serve up recommendations as they browse your site, or even send emails with suggestions for things they might like.
  • Get social. Three out of five consumers interact with retailers on social media—mostly on Facebook, where 55% of consumers engage with businesses, but also on Twitter (21 percent) and Pinterest (10 percent). Interestingly, 53 percent say that a YouTube video has led to an online purchase at least once. When you’re on social media, give consumers what they want—for 78 percent of them, that’s coupons and promotions, and for 65 percent, it’s news about new products or other brand news. can help your ecommerce website deliver what shoppers want. Learn more about ecommerce websites from 

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.
Rieva Lesonsky

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