The 2009 State of Retailing Merchandising Report

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The 2009 State of Retailing Online (SORO) Merchandising Report is being released this morning at the Merchandising Workshop.  Based on the input of retailers in our first of two SORO surveys earlier this year, it looks like optimizing the basics – not just adding “shiny objects” – is where retailers are prudently focusing this year. 

Specifically, retailers this year are setting the following as priorities for their Web sites:

  • Checkout process redesign – 79%
  • Improved content on product detail pages – 73%
  • Site search and browse results – 71%
  • Home page – 60%
  • Redesigned help section / FAQs – 35%

So, what should our industry expect to see in terms of specifics? 

Check out.  Retailers recognize that giving customers the full total for their purchases, i.e. calculating specific shipping and handling charges, prior to actual checkout is one key to preventing shopping cart abandonment.  A 2005 Forrester study found that over half of consumers who left items in their shopping cart did so because they didn’t want to pay shipping charges, and almost as many again noted that the total cost was higher than they anticipated.  We’re heartened to see retailers paying more attention to the end of the online shopping process, just as they have lavished on the beginning.     

Product detail pages.  Merchants surveyed anticipate investing more in alternative images, zoom and, to a somewhat lesser degree, lifestyle or on-model photography.  Additionally, they plan to augment product information with user-generated content such as ratings and reviews.  Streaming video, a much-discussed site feature among online merchandisers, appears for now more of a medium priority. 

Search results.  Recognizing the power of the first items featured on a search results page, retailers surveyed noted that filters for on-site search are another area of focus for them.  Presenting products in terms of top-seller or top-rating status can yield strong results.  Some retailers surveyed also noted that overhauling their site search capabilities entirely will be a focus this year.    

The 2009 SORO Merchandising Report reminders retailers, however, that other significant basics cannot be overlooked this year.  For example, ensuring best in class customer help, persona-driven design, and even site monitoring services must be on merchandisers’ radar this year to paint the full picture of how customers interact with the site and whether they ultimately buy or abandon ship. 

Additionally this year, the 2009 SORO Merchandising report also includes some data from the Deloitte Capability Assessment 2009. Members can download the full report here, and everyone may reference the press release also.  If you are a retailer and are interested in receiving the results of our “2009 SORO Economy, Channel Activity and Profitability Report”, please participate in this SORO Survey now.  In the field until July 31, 2009, please contact me if you haven’t already received your company-specific survey URL.  Read all about SORO research and this survey specifically on our SORO FAQs page.  All retailers (but only retailers) are eligible to participate, regardless of membership status. 

As always, we welcome your feedback on this research! 

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