Monday, July 16, 2012
According to Forrester Research, online retail sales will reach $278.9 billion in 2015. It’s no wonder then that over the past decade, eCommerce websites have become incredibly fine-tuned conversion machines. The best of the best optimize the performance of technology, design, and content in pursuit of the holy grail of online retail—a frictionless, online environment in which every visitor becomes a loyal customer.
During the Retail Touchpoints Exposed reasearch our intent in visiting the websites of the Hot 100 Retailers was to evaluate their efforts to build email, mobile, and social audiences. In so doing, we determined that while all the retailers surveyed had websites, only 72 offered eCommerce enabled websites. Accordingly, we reviewed and evaluated each website’s:
- Email opt-in calls-to-action
- Social engagement calls-to-action
And in the case of eCommerce enabled websites, we also evaluated:
- Product-related social engagement
- Purchase path through purchase confirmation
While the retailers’ online efforts to build subscribers, fans, and followers are certainly better than their in-store efforts, we again found ample room for improvement.
Unlike their brick and mortar stores, the Hot 100 Retailers appear to be committed to turning website visitors into email subscribers. We found that and 67 include an email opt-in form on their homepage and other pages of their website (pre-purchase). We also found that 11 of the 100 retailers provided a first-purchase incentive discount to new email subscribers. Overall, only 8 retailers failed to make any effort to acquire email subscribers on their website.
At first glance, the devotion of such prime website real estate to email acquisition suggests that at least the digital teams at the Hot 100 Retailers understand the business value of each email subscriber. However, the fact that 26 of the retail websites surveyed made no pre-purchase effort to convert website visitors into email subscribers screams of a missed opportunity. Even if those retailers are seeking opt-in permission as part of the check-out process, they are still missing out on acquiring subscribers who may still be “window shopping” the brand—those who are interested but not yet ready to purchase.
Indeed, social media is so hot, it commands more of the Hot 100 Retailers’ precious website real estate than email. While 74 have email opt-in links on their home page, 87 of the Hot 100 Retailers prominently feature social icons on their home page.
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