Retail websites get 25% of their traffic from search engines, according to an online competitive intelligence service. And more the more information retailers provide on the web, the more likely customers will shop at their stores and return to their sites.
Search engines increased their role in sending visitors to shopping and classified websites by 0.7% from May 2006 to May 2007, and Google sent the most traffic, according to Hitwise figures released this week. A separate survey announced this week that shoppers are more likely to shop in traditional stores and return to websites of retailers that provide complete product information online.
Google accounted for 15.6% of upstream shopping and classified visits, marking an increase of 8.7% since May 2006, according to Hitwise. One-word searches, including domain and URL searches, accounted for 23.7% of search terms sending traffic to shopping and classified websites. A 20% increase in one-word searches since May 2005 points to growing use of search toolbars as a primary means of navigating the World Wide Web, Hitwise reported.
Social networking sites also drive a small percentage of upstream visits to shopping and classified websites, but they increased their role over the past year. According to Hitwise, the 20 top social networking websites increased their influence on retail and classified visits by 86.7% from May 2006 to May 2007. Not surprisingly, MySpace, the most popular social networking website, accounted for almost all of it. Hitwise reported that MySpace drove 3.2% of upstream visits to shopping and classified websites in May 2007, while all social networking sites combined accounted for 3.6%.
Hitwise General Manager of Global Research Bill Tancer presented those search trends and others at the 2007 Internet Retailer conference in San Jose this week.
"Search data provides a wealth of information about how consumers look for what they need and shop online," Tancer said in a prepared statement. "Marketers can leverage search data to better understand their brand and that of your competitors' brands to make smarter business decisions moving the needle on their brand equity and associations."
They also can provide shoppers with information online. According to WebCollage, a New York company that helps manufacturers and retail partners integrate web content, companies that fail to provide customers with information to make informed purchases risk losing those customers in the long run.
"There's a convenience factor for customers, knowing that when they see something on the web, they can go into the store and get exactly what they saw on the Web site," Jed Alpert, VP of Marketing for WebCollage, said in a prepared statement. "Moreover, the survey reinforces results from WebCollage testing, completed across hundreds of thousands of consumers on retail websites, that shows when consumers see enhanced product information from manufacturers on retail websites their conversions increase by more than 80%."
Alpert said trust also is a big factor for shoppers.
Ninety-one percent of shoppers responding to WebCollage's 2007 Survey of Online Consumer Product Research Habits said that it was very important or important that they be able to find complete product information online. Forty-four percent of the respondents said that retail websites did not have the most complete information on manufacturers' products, and one-third expressed concerns that retailer content about products was outdated.
Thirty-seven percent of shoppers said they would visit a competitor's site to find the information they need, and 82% said they were more likely to return to sites that provided them with complete product information, according to the survey. Fifty-five percent said they would go to manufacturers for information.
Results were based on responses from 333 adults who shopped online at least once in the past year.
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