E-Commerce: Hot Products, Online Marketing Trends

While you'd expect that the Wii and Apple iPod Touch are hot products this year, some other in-demand items may surprise you. (Note to self: Stock up on KitchenAid mixers.) Plus, see what your competitors are doing to market their sites for the fourth-quarter.
This week in e-commerce news, we highlight Shop.org's recent study that shows what your competitors say they are doing to market their online stores this year, as it outlines how they're handling free shipping and so on, and even shows some are creating a presence on Facebook. Plus, SortPrice reports its lists of the most-searched for items, which reveal a few surprises.

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According to results of the 2008 eHoliday Study from Shop.org, 56.1 percent of online retailers expect their holiday sales to increase at least 15 percent over last year, compared to 77.5 percent of retailers surveyed last year who expected the same growth.

Scott Silverman, Executive Director of Shop.org, says "Retailers will be heavily promotional to attract shoppers on a budget, but have also invested in new site features to improve the online buying experience."

Despite an increase in transportation costs, retailers do not plan to cut back on popular free shipping promotions. This year:
  • 78 percent of retailers plan to offer free shipping with conditions

  • 40.4 percent of retailers are compensating for increased shipping costs by renegotiating terms with shipping providers

  • 33.3 percent are closely managing company headcount

  • 15.8 percent are reducing other promotions

  • 21.3 percent of online vendors say they will require a higher purchase amount for customers to be eligible for free shipping

  • 10.6 percent will cut back on usage of free shipping with no conditions.

In addition to free shipping promotions, many online sellers have rolled out new Web site features to improve the customer experience. According to Shop.org, 42.9 percent of retailers added or improved site search to help customers navigate sites more easily while 42.6 percent added product video and 32.7 percent offered customer reviews to give shoppers more information to make buying decisions.

For price-focused shoppers, key findings are as follows:
  • 27.1 percent of online merchants have added and enhanced clearance sale pages

  • 31.3 percent added featured sale pages

  • 25 percent of online retailers added a Facebook page this year

  • 58 percent of consumers acknowledge that 24-hour shopping convenience is one of the main reasons why they choose to buy online.
Additionally, shoppers' other top reasons for buying online instead of in stores include:
  • Not wanting to fight crowds (41.1 percent)

  • Easy price comparisons (36.4 percent)

  • Free shipping (33.3 percent)

  • Also, nearly one in four shoppers says they are buying online due to high gas prices (23.1 percent)

SortPrice.com's Hot Products

The shopping comparison site SortPrice.com is already getting lots of holiday customers, and while you'd expect that the Wii and Apple iPod Touch are hot products this year, some other contenders may surprise you. In short, stock up on KitchenAid Mixers and Garmin GPS models.

Here the team reports what the most-searched for categories and items are to date nationwide on the site:

Top Industries

Top Categories

Top Product Searches

Michelle Megna is managing editor of ECommerce-Guide.com.

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