Free delivery offers are the main driver behind online shoppers’ purchase decisions – more so than even their site experience, a new study by ForeSee Results
has indicated.

The company surveyed more than 10,500 visitors to 30 top retail websites in the UK to find out what drives site traffic, sales and satisfaction.

Over a third (34%) cited free delivery as the most important factor in their last purchase decision. A positive site experience was the only other thing mentioned by a significant amount of respondents (15%).

Free delivery offers also increased customer satisfaction by 4% when not restricted by caveats, according to the survey.

Many retailers offered free shipping over the Xmas period – so as the report says, other firms will “need to determine whether this lift in future sales merits the extra investment”.

Other interesting findings include:

Drivers of traffic:

  • Familiarity with a product and brand was a key driver of site traffic – more than a third visited one of the Top 30 retailers because they knew the brand or product. This group was also the most satisfied with the retailers they used, and more likely to purchase.
  • Email was responsible for 16% of site visits – as was search. However, visitors from search engines were 20% less likely to make a purchase than those who visited because they were familiar wtih a product or brand.

Customer experience:

  • Consumer reviews were responsible for higher levels of satisfaction among consumers, and shoppers on sites with reviews were 8% more likely to make a purchase, 8% more likely to use the retailer next time.
  • Alternative payment options are in demand from customers – 49% said they would be likely to use payment services like Google Checkout and PayPal. But they would not necessarily increase average order values – 71% said it would have no effect on the amount they spend.

Related research:

Customer Engagement Report 2008

Email Marketing Buyer’s Guide 2007

Search Engine Marketing Report 2007

Social Commerce Report 2007

Related stories: tops customer satisfaction poll

Multi-channel retailers ‘offer better customer service’