Limited-time-only promotions surge

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shoppingcart.jpgADOTAS — Merchants are reworking online marketing ideas to get hard to close sales, a new survey shows.

Merchants are creatively rethinking tactics such as using limited-time-only promotions, which jumped to 42 percent penetration in 2008 from 18 percent in 2007,  according to the e-tailing group’s 11th Annual Mystery Shopping Survey. The only measurable decrease in presence was Gift with Purchase perhaps as it is less economical than the other tactics benchmarked. Online Outlets saw a 14 percent increase in penetration year-over-year. With 86 percent of merchants now deploying this tactic, a dedicated well-merchandised location to attract price-sensitive shoppers deserves attention.

“Smart merchants are taking execution to a higher level; elevating the online shopping experience to provide customers with increased efficiency while fostering retention,” said Lauren Freedman, President of the e-tailing group. “Throughout our review of 100 websites we observed merchants pulling out all the stops to rethink promotions, refine search, retool content, information and reinvent community.”

Free shipping continues to be a promotional standard offered by more merchants in diverse manners that complement their business models including an increase in conditional free shipping to a store (26% in 2008 vs. 15% in 2007). Putting control in the hands of the customer, merchants are using search and tools.

Keyword Search is the standard bearer as 100 percent of the sites surveyed have the feature. Beyond this a majority of merchants are implementing an in-depth refined search (85%), providing guided navigation (63%), and landing page sorts (77%) in part replacing advanced search (15% vs. 23%) as these newly tracked metrics provide fewer click-throughs to reach the desired product. Such “in-your-face” merchandising is ideal in tough economic times as it pinpoints product first; placing it squarely in the front of the consumer for consideration and quick purchase.

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