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Finders Keepers

It’s by helping customers quickly and easily find the products they are looking for that Growth 2000 companies stand apart from the competition within Search, writes Chloe Rigby

Search and navigation of a website is the tool that successful Growth 2000 retailers use to win new customers. Shoppers looking for a product that meets their needs will bounce unless the retailer makes it easy to find. Moreover, brands can leverage social networks to make their products more prominent.

RetailX researchers analysed how Growth 2000 retailers use site search and navigation to find the right product on the one hand, and social media in order to be found in the first place on the other. They looked at how easy these retailers made it for shoppers to find their products and to assess those products, through the information, images and reviews that they give. The goal was to see which retailers are doing the most with the traffic they get, maximising convenience and minimising the number of shoppers who leave the site without making a purchase. They contrasted their findings to how the InternetRetailing Top500 group of larger retailers approaches the same areas.

Discovery, whether of retailers, brands or products, now more often happens through search, where SEO (search engine optimisation) is key to appearing naturally in results, while PPC (pay per click) can improve the chances of being found still further. Social media is more relevant to some sectors, such as fashion, than others, as potential buyers ask others which items will best meet their needs.

Once shoppers have found a website that may meet their needs, it’s important that they can follow through and find the items they want. That means search results must be relevant, and navigation straightforward, to make the journey easier. Some retailers lower barriers still further by allowing shoppers to sign in or buy with third-party accounts including Google, Facebook and PayPal. That said, it’s clear that as yet, many Growth 2000 retailers are not making the changes that can lead to incremental growth and improved conversion rates.

What the Growth 2000 do – compared with the Top500

Product ratings were deployed by 51% of Growth 2000 (G2K) retailers. A slightly higher proportion (57%) of Top500 retailers offered this. They were most commonly found among retailers selling health products and sports goods (both 71%), although there were variations between those selling sports equipment (65%), clothing (59%), and footwear (57%). They were least commonly found in fashion, where 39% of those selling accessories, 38% of those selling footwear and 34% of those selling clothing used them.

Two thirds (64%) of G2K traders used cross-selling techniques to recommend similar items to the one a shopper is considering. That’s lower than the 71% of Top500 retailers that did so.

The approach was used by four out of five (79%) of G2K traders selling children’s toys and by 77% of those selling fashion clothing and jewellery. It was less popular among those selling home and industrial appliances, music, film, and TV (all 57%) – although still used by more than half of businesses in these categories.

Guest checkout was offered by just over half of G2K businesses. They lagged behind the 55% of Top500 retailers that enable shoppers to complete their purchases without needing to register.
Guest checkout was most commonly found among businesses selling music, film and TV (63%), fashion clothing (59%), and sports clothing (57%). It was least commonly found among retailers of alcohol (41%) – perhaps due to the need to comply with age restrictions. Half of those selling health goods and trade tools had a guest checkout.

Wishlists were offered by two fifths (40%) of the G2K, contrasting with 63% of the Top500. The use of this feature depended largely on the sector, with 69% of jewellery retailers enabling customers to save items for later or to share with friends. That contrasted with 24% of those selling alcoholic drinks, and 36% of those selling consumer electronics. In fashion, 63% of clothing and footwear retailers had wishlists, as did 63% of those selling accessories.

Almost half (47%) of the G2K enabled shoppers to share products with their friends, either on social media, email or other services. This was five percentage points lower than the Top500.

Strong performers

Retailers that stood out in this area include, Discount Supplements, The Dressing Room, Heinnie Haynes, Master of Malt, Meli Melo, Military 1st, Music Room, Professional Music Technology and Zee & Co.

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