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E‐Commerce » Tips & Facts, Best Practice | 10.09.2015

For e-commerce sites, content and free shipping are king

Online retailers who think all they need to do is pack their site with as many products as possible may need to think again. Digital shoppers, it turns out, want way more – with quality content and free shipping at the top of the list.

That's according to a new survey of American internet marketers in the middle of 2015, and what was important for them in driving that all-important online sales ingredient: engagement. Almost half of those who took part in the survey said content was critical in creating audience engagement and developing higher levels of online sales.

Not surprisingly, all kinds of e-commerce operations are scrambling to add good content to their sites. It can range from customer reviews of products or services – which are particularly appreciated by online shoppers as they’re perceived as being unbiased and therefore true – to in-depth product descriptions, articles and blogs. In effect, e-commerce sites are part-transforming into media publishing operations.

The survey, carried out by digital publishing software firm Zmags, found 20% of online marketers believed it was important to be consistent in delivering the appropriate message and at the appropriate time while 17% pointed to multi-channel e-commerce platforms as a powerful way of attracting audiences and engaging with them.

The marketing executives also said mobile was increasingly important to what they were doing, with over half of them saying it was fast becoming the leading technology they would use. E-commerce sites must be configured, using responsive-design software, so that they retain their full functionality when accessed via smartphone or tablet computer.

Meanwhile, a survey of online shopping activity in 2014 breaks down the reasons why people abandon their carts and don't go ahead with their purchases. One of the biggest reasons, according to the E-commerce Survey 2014, are high costs for delivery using local and international parcel services. A total of 28% of respondents said they didn't expect hefty delivery sums to be added to their sale.<

Interestingly, and good news for international parcel companies and online stores, is that 24% of those questioned said they would prefer to spend more so they could avail of free shipping offers.