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Study: Online retailers focusing on checkout to increase sales


New York City Retailers are paying as much attention to how the online shopping experience ends as how it starts, according to’s The State of Retailing Online 2009: Merchandising Report, conducted by Forrester Research.

The report survey found that this year retailers plan to focus heavily on improving customers’ checkout experience. Companies will also place an emphasis on image enhancement on product detail pages and site-search filters to help shoppers more easily find what they’re looking for.

According to the survey, eight out of 10 retailers (79%) said enhancing the checkout process was on the top of their to-do lists for the remainder of the year, with 90% of medium-sized retailers listing checkout as a top priority.

The largest initiative in this area among retailers seems to be an emphasis on shipping, with retailers specifically increasing the transparency around shipping charges to reduce shopping-cart abandonment. According to the survey, 88% of retailers will focus on providing more shipping information within the next year, including such details as when a customer can expect to receive a package, and information about when products have left the warehouse. In addition, two-thirds of retailers (67%) said they would pay special attention to calculating the loaded cost of an order prior to checkout.

“Retailers realize that, particularly during an economic downturn, shoppers who understand shipping charges at the beginning of the checkout process are less likely to abandon their purchases,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, Forrester Research VP, principal analyst and lead author of the report.

The increased focus on checkout is balanced by a somewhat lessened focus on home-page improvements, with 60% of companies saying they would concentrate on improving their home page, down from previous years. According to the report, retailers have learned that many shoppers bypass the home page altogether because comparison shopping engines and search engines often direct them to specific pages on retailers’ Web sites instead. As a result, retailers are focusing more on product detail pages and search results pages.

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