Retail Customer Experience: The Five Online Commerce Features That Create Loyalty

Dec 08, 2010

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion
is a summary of a current article from Retail Customer Experience,
a daily news portal devoted to helping retailers differentiate the shopping

Limelight Networks Inc. released a survey showing that
rich media and personalization are essential to establishing brand loyalty,
especially with those who shop online most frequently.

More than 1,600 online
shoppers ranked the importance of ecommerce functionality in their decisions
to make online purchases and return to sites for future shopping. Across all
respondents, the following features ranked highest in their ability to positively
impact online shopper loyalty:

1. (Tie) Product images are clear and thorough.

1. (Tie) Site search is speedy
and productive.

2. (Tie) Advanced product viewing functionality (360 degree
viewing, see available colors as they would look on the product, zoom-in/out,

2. (Tie) Ability to customize products online (ex. see apparel on someone
my size).

3. Written reviews from other users of the product.

4. Site recognizes me.

5. Site recalls my billing and shipping information.

The research found that
more frequent online shoppers, defined as those who said that in addition to
holiday shopping, they make online purchases more than once per month, ranked
rich media functions as well as personalization as ‘extremely’ or ‘very important’
more consistently than all other respondents.

Among the more frequent online
shoppers, 94 percent agreed that ‘Product photography is clear and thorough’
were ‘extremely’ or ‘very important’ in their decision to stay and purchase
from a site and return to the site to purchase again. That was followed by:

  • Allows me to customize products online, 79 percent;
  • Advanced product viewing functionality, 76 percent;
  • Site automatically recalls my billing and shipping information, 73 percent;
  • Site recognizes me when I come back to visit, 68 percent;
  • Remembers my personal preferences, such as shoe size, aisle seat on an
    airplane, 57 percent;
  • Product recommendations are made based on the items that I have already
    purchased, 55 percent;
  • Video demonstration of required assembly or installation,’ 49 percent;
  • Video demonstrations of the product in use, 46 percent;
  • Video product reviews from actual customers, 46 percent.

Discussion Questions: How does customer loyalty work differently online
than in the store? Which features do you think do the most to engender loyalty
for e-commerce sites now? Which features will grow in importance in the future?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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7 Comments on "Retail Customer Experience: The Five Online Commerce Features That Create Loyalty"

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Dan Berthiaume
Dan Berthiaume
11 years 5 months ago

Customer loyalty is both easier and harder to obtain and maintain online as compared to a brick-and-mortar store. Tracking customer preferences, behavior, future needs based on past purchases, etc. is much easier online. But customers realize this, and thus have much higher expectations for personalized service online. Online CRM technology, if used properly, can produce enormous benefits in terms of customer loyalty probably not deliverable from in-store CRM systems.

Cathy Hotka
11 years 5 months ago

There are some terrific points made in this piece. I hope it is read by retailers who do still have brochure sites — like H&M — who could be increasing sales over this holiday season.

Gene Hoffman
Gene Hoffman
11 years 5 months ago

It is sometimes easier and more reassuring to see into a company’s business eyes through mobile devices than in person. The smartphone delivers more accurate product info than many sales people do … and without any hassle or intimidation, which are anti-loyalty builders.

Ralph Jacobson
11 years 5 months ago

The survey did a good job of making shoppers’ desires more tangible. I think true loyalty has been misunderstood and is still confused with the “frequent shopper”. I believe online and in-store loyalty can be built in much the same way. Both of these channels and others intersect, and the easier those intersections are for the shopper, the more propensity they will have to continue to shop there. A shopper going to a site or a store just to get “frequent shopper” discounts, doesn’t create much loyalty, because they can get similar discounts at so many other outlets.

James Tenser
11 years 5 months ago

Limelight Networks’ survey has produced a pretty good list of traits that make an online retail site acceptable to shoppers, but it has very little to do with loyalty.

I would argue that these functional attributes are not competitive differentiators, but minimum stakes to play the game.

Any retail site that does not, for example, provide product imagery of sufficient quality to enabled informed choice, will simply fail. When the first experience is sub-standard, there is no re-patronage–forget about establishing an emotional connection.

Dave Wendland
11 years 5 months ago

James Tenser’s points are well stated. I whole-heartedly agree that having the content right and having the right content will increase the likelihood of success. I also believe that the brick-and-click models are beginning to emerge with an eye toward excellence. This is very encouraging.

Don Delzell
Don Delzell
11 years 5 months ago
Brand loyalty online is a highly debated topic. What does it really mean, and how can it really be measured? And why are pricing and promotion not a relevant part of that spectrum? In the brick and mortar world, we don’t eliminate promotional pricing strategies as impacting brand loyalty….they clearly do. And so it is online. These tendencies are extremely useful. They do not, as others have alluded to, create competitive advantages. Each of them can be delivered by just about any online player willing to spend the money on the feature. The barrier to acquiring these capabilities drops every year in total cost and effort. So the argument that they are baseline functionality of the future may be relevant. I think the real question is how to establish brand differentiation and therefore loyalty online in a manner which is defensible and sustainable. Site functionality, to a great extent, is not either of those things. Early adopter rewards exist, and best in class preferences can be powerful. Beyond that….. What really are the differentiating and… Read more »

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