Price, Shipping, Or Customer Service? Which Online Retail Strategy Is #1 Shopper Magnet?

At my LinkedIn site, Competitive Pricing For Online Retail, I polled 3500 retail execs and managers to find out your opinion regarding eCommerce Online Retail StrategyWhat do you think is the #1 feature for building your customer base and insuring loyalty of online shoppers? Answer choices were: 1. Have the lowest prices. 2. Provide unequalled customer service. 3. Offer Free Shipping. 4. Offer Free Returns. 5. Have a pleasant, easy-to-use website. Here's what the vote said, plus some interesting comments on the poll itself, including your thoughts on how best to achieve the goals:  

Poll Results:

 

43% - Provide unequalled customer service.

24% - Have the lowest prices.

21% - Have a pleasant, easy-to-use website.

11% - Offer free shipping.

1% - Offer free returns.

Interesting were the comments on the poll itself:

…(The poll answer choice) really becomes a combination of all of these points as you look for ways of drawing in and retaining those profitable customers you want and who value what you have to offer overall… Online retailing needs to focus on the online shopping experience, ease of use, and strong search capabilities. Joleen Thompson - Wroten

…Online retailers should use a combination of methods to develop and retain loyal customers. Better deals, free shipping, easy return and excellent customer services." Phi Nga Tran, Pricing Analyst

…All 5 are important, but if you have a site that doesn't allow ease of use you'll never get the customer to the low prices or free shipping or anything else. Bella Jalbert, Search Marketing Manager at Christianbook.com

…The first and most important aspect of ecommerce is to get the customer to the website to purchase products or services. If the site is not easy to navigate… the public will find another retailer… From initial navigation of the site all the way through to the delivery of their purchase the expectation from the customer is perfection. Michele Burns, National Director Inventory Control and Quality Assurance at Macys Logistics and Operations

…After the product is sold, the differentiating factor that remains is how else you can help maximise the customer's profitable experience. The service is the point where the customer and the vendor interact to bring this outcome. Venkatesh Kangovi Narasimhamurthy, GM Marketing, ONGC

…Building a database and Customer loyalty are 2 different things aren't they?

1. Building a database = word of mouth, quality products, good marketing.

2. Customer loyalty = good customer service, quality products, easy sales, easy returns, loyalty specials…

and... How are low prices, free shipping, easy returns going to gain a customer who has never shopped with you? 

and... If you want to attract new customers to grow your customer base you need to market your company, it's as simple as that. Michael Durwin, Google Glass Explorer Dir. Marketing Exclusive Concepts

…Hard to choose one answer since they are all very important for a successful retail business. Daniel Gregersen, IT and mobile device technician, Ollycom

…Low prices get their attention. Outstanding service keeps them coming back. Warren Friel, Pricing Director, Pep Boys

…We all love a good deal but if the only thing you are competing on is price then you will end up losing as anyone can have the lowest price on the block. Collin Kinning, Regional Pricing Coordinator, Nash Finch

…(If you're going to offer) free shipping, no limit seems to work pretty well. Shayne King, Pricing Profitability Analyst-E-Commerce, Petco

Bottom Line/Conclusions

Quote: …The recipe for success and lasting relationships is really to offer all of the above. Limiting or eliminating any restrictions to receive shopping benefits is also well advised. Most of the time, you only have 1 chance to engage and win with the customer. Once the customer knows they have to spend $200 to get free shipping, the retailer may be barred from all that customer's future considerations. Eric Marcelino, Director, Customer Strategy & Intelligence Planning at Macys Merchandising Group

Quote: ...Price-centric customers are not a traditionally loyal group and are, by their very definition, always willing to jump brands/retailers for the right price. Determining a loyalty strategy based solely on pricing is a short-term gain while investments on an intuitive site that allows for easy browsing or getting in and out quickly is the better long-term loyalty win. Joleen Thompson - Wroten

Those are the details that seal customer satisfaction and loyalty. Like "The House That Jack Built," you first have to get them to your site. Then your site has to be pleasant and easy to navigate. Then your pricing has to be appealing -- and correct for you. Then your customer service has to be top notch -- from first contact through to the purchase, and thereafter. Gilon

Thank you all for your participation and comments. Watch for the next poll, coming up! 

 

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Gilon Miller, CMO

About Author

Gilon is a seasoned marketing, sales and business development executive with over 15 years of experience in the software and Internet business. He is the Founder and CEO of GuruShots. Previously, Gilon was the CMO of Upstream Commerce, VP of Marketing at iMDsoft and Director of Global Marketing at SAP. He earned an MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University.
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