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Online Retailers' New Year's Resolutions

To improve conversion, online retailers look to better testing, how-to information and other tweaks

US holiday retail ecommerce has met every test so far this year, beating many expectations and showing double-digit growth on all of the crucial shopping days in November, according to data from comScore. Online retailers could be expected to toast the outgoing year with a glass of champagne, but it turns out they are already making new resolutions for 2013.

SLI Systems, a search technology company, in November asked over 450 online retailers worldwide about their biggest challenges in 2012 and their plans for the upcoming year. The leading challenge for these organizations was improving conversions, cited by 63.1% of respondents. The emphasis on conversions makes sense given that for the 2012 holiday season, increased conversions drove increased sales.

To overcome major challenges—and improve on their successes—ecommerce organizations are focusing on a variety of tactics in 2013. In terms of feature improvement, more extensive use of A/B testing was a clear priority, with 53.6% planning to do more testing of varying pages’ effectiveness. Other user-experience tweaks in the works for a significant number of respondents included better merchandising and adding rich auto-complete, which would provide search results with added features like thumbnail images.

Another striking finding from the survey was the number of online retailers planning on investing in non-product content in 2013. Over one-third planned to add how-to information to their sites in 2013. Online videos, blog posts and articles were also each cited by over one-quarter of respondents.

More robust content may help a greater number of online shoppers have the confidence to buy a product online without experiencing it in the store, ensuring another happy new year for online retailers in 2014.

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Check out today’s other articles, “Neo@Ogilvy Deconstructs Cross-Platform Ad Measurement” and “Social Networks Provide Ecommerce Entry Point in Indonesia.”

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