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    As Shoppers Get More Web-Savvy, Online Retailers Up the Ante: Survey

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- As shoppers become more discriminating about their interactions online, the stakes are being raised for retailers to provide a consistently positive, more sophisticated experience, said retailers surveyed by Forrester Research, Inc., based here.

    CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- As shoppers become more discriminating about their interactions online, the stakes are being raised for retailers to provide a consistently positive, more sophisticated experience, said retailers surveyed by Forrester Research, Inc., based here.

    Top priorities for online retail upgrades include fixing Web site design and performance issues, improving the efficiency of online marketing, and enhancing cross-channel integration, said the 150 retailers surveyed for the second part of The State of Retailing Online 2007, the tenth annual Shop.org study conducted by Forrester.

    Fixing product detail pages will top retailers' Web site to-do lists for the next 12 months. According to the survey, 88 percent of retailers plan to focus on improving content presented on product detail pages, with 80 percent adding alternative images, 72 percent incorporating lifestyle photography, and 63 percent integrating customer ratings and reviews.

    Retailers are also focusing on their home pages, integrating top sellers and "what's new" sections, and making their Web sites more sophisticated, with dropdown menus and rollover lists in navigational areas.

    To differentiate themselves from competitors, online retailers are also making customer service a priority, with 33 percent of companies planning to invest more in live chat and 53 percent planning to enhance their guest checkout process within the next year.

    "It's encouraging to see more retailers planning to integrate customer feedback loops into their sales processes," said Sucharita Mulpuru, Forrester Research senior analyst and lead author of the report, in a statement. "Many retailers have been relying on site analytics data, which is strong at reflecting paths-to-purchase but typically weak at highlighting vulnerabilities or opportunities for improvement."

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