Connections - Lessons in Cyberselling
Smart Web connections also helped online sales. Experienced Web shoppers use large search engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN and AOL to find what they want. WebSideStory, a San Diego research firm, found that serious shoppers knew what they wanted to buy, and used the big search engines to find relevant sources. Ritz Interactive, the online offshoot of the camera/film/video retailer, confirmed that view, noting that customers who came to one of its 14 Web sites via Google or another search engine were much more likely to buy a specific product than customers who arrived through shopping portals. Savvy merchants are also finding ways to improve their multichannel relationships. One company found that putting its printed catalog into shipping cartons generated a three-fold increase in purchases from these repeat customers.
Retailers and manufacturers should determine how to best exploit the Web's capabilities. Ritz Interactive plans to abandon its outlet stores and turn to eBay auctions to sell its overstocked products. The company believes it can reach larger audiences and get better prices through eBay, achieving efficiencies not possible at its mall outlets.
Most significantly, dealers should accept the Web for what it is: a comparison-shopping mecca. At least 90 percent of holiday shoppers looked around on the Web to compare prices and products before making a purchase. Customers visited an average of four sites before they decided where to buy, and then they visited the favored merchant an average of 2.5 times before completing a transaction.