How easily Growth 2000 retailers enable their customers first to find a product, before moving on to explore the product and then complete their purchase at the checkout, is the focus for the Search & Checkout Dimension.
RetailX researchers analysed this part of the customer journey through metrics including how likely G2K retailers are to recommend similar products and to enable customers to save products on a wishlist for future reference, to rate them through star ratings and to share them with friends.
They also examined the extent to which retailers enable shoppers to complete their transaction as a guest or through third-party checkouts, as well as noting how many retailers offer a store finder so that shoppers can complete their journey in a bricks and mortar shop.
RetailX Knowledge Partner BuiltWith contributed its findings on how likely G2K retailers are to use technologies from Google, Facebook and Twitter to build audiences, to remarket items to shoppers, and to track conversion rates.
How do G2K retailers help shoppers find their products?
Researchers found that cross-promotion is a valuable tool for most G2K retailers. Almost two-thirds (64%) of those in the index recommend similar products to shoppers who are looking at an item on their website. This can give customers a useful insight into the alternatives that are available if this particular product does not suit their needs, and increase the likelihood of a purchase.
The proportion of G2K retailers deploying this approach is unchanged from last year’s research but it varies across retail categories. It is most commonly used in the children’s toys and accessories category – by 76% of retailers – as well as in the drinks (76%) and fashion clothing (75%) categories. But the tactic is least commonly found in grocery (56%) and ready-made food (33%).
The use of social tools remains relatively widespread in finding products: 44% of G2K retailers enable shoppers to share a product on the website with friends via social media channels. That’s up by 1 percentage point (pp} from last year.
More than half (58%) of index members use Google remarketing tools to remind website visitors and/or mobile app users of the items they viewed there after they have moved on. And a similar proportion (56%) use Facebook to build custom audiences to whom they show relevant products on social media.
How do retailers help visitors research their products?
Product ratings are an important tool for shoppers who want to find out what other people thought of an item they are considering buying. Other people’s opinion tends to be more important online. Since website users cannot see, touch and feel an item for themselves, they will look to see what those who have seen the item think of it.
In 2019, half (50%) of G2K retailers enable their customers to share that opinion through product ratings. This proportion is unchanged since last year’s research but use of ratings varies significantly by sector.
This year’s research sees retailers selling health products most likely to enable customers to rate a product (77% do so), followed by those selling drinks (70%) and cosmetics (63%). But fashion retailers, the largest category among G2K retailers, are significantly less likely to share customer product ratings, whether they sell fashion accessories (39%), fashion footwear (37%) or fashion clothing (35%).
Customer reviews are another useful way for shoppers to research products. BuiltWith research found a small minority of G2K retailers enabling shoppers to read what other customers think across search and social channels, using Google customer reviews (6%) – a tool that records both customer ratings and reviews and then automatically shows them in Google Shopping search results – and Facebook comments (3%).
For shoppers who have found products they would like to buy but aren’t yet ready to purchase, saving these items to a wishlist is a useful option. In 2019, 41% of G2K retailers enable this function, up by just 1pp from 40% in the previous year. The feature is found more often among those offering relatively high value or discretionary purchases, with 69% of jewellery retailers offering wishlists, followed by those selling fashion clothing and fashion footwear (both 59%).
Wishlists are least common among those selling grocery (23%), trade and DIY tools and equipment (33%), and health products (33%). Perhaps that’s because these purchases are utility buys, made because items are needed immediately.
How do retailers enable customers to buy a product?
How easily retailers enable shoppers to complete a transaction can be key to their success in selling. Offering the ability to check out as a guest can make the experience faster for shoppers and therefore make the transaction more likely to be completed – but it also means that retailers forfeit much of the information about their customers that they might otherwise have gained from a signed-up and signed-in shopper.
RetailX research found that 41% of G2K retailers offer their customers this option, after a year in which it became significantly less popular among index members, with use down by 11pp from 52% the previous year. It is most common in apparel, offered by retailers selling sports and leisure clothing (50%), sports and leisure footwear (49%), and fashion clothing (48%).
Almost half (47%) selling sports equipment, trade and DIY tools and equipment, music, film and TV products offer guest checkout. It is least common among those selling health products (37%), groceries (29%) and ready-made food (17%).
Offering a checkout operated by third-party payment providers proved popular with a minority of retailers. Paypal checkout was the most popular, offered by 37% of G2K retailers. That was down by 2pp from 39% last year. Less widely used were Facebook checkout (10%, +1pp) and Google checkout (6%, +1pp).
The G2K research also looked at how retailers measured conversion rates through social and search channels. Data from RetailX Knowledge Partner BuiltWith found that 59% of the G2K track conversion from products they see through Google search results, 44% measure conversion after seeing a product on Facebook, and 8% track their Twitter conversion rate.
One final option for online shoppers who have researched products online is to buy in-store, so providing a store finder can make that choice easier. RetailX researchers found that in 2019, 15% of G2K retailers offer this feature to those visiting their website. That’s 1pp down on last year’s study.