Website features: Predictive search becomes table stakes
Certain features are now expected on retail websites. A prime example are customer ratings and reviews, which appear on four out of every five Top 1000 ecommerce sites.
Predictive search, in which the site suggests search terms as the consumer types into the search box, is fast achieving similar status. It now appears on 69.5% of Top 1000 sites. Video is also a feature on a growing number of sites — 79.9% — and showed a big increase in 2021 over the prior year.
There was little movement in the percentage of Top 1000 retailers catering to international shoppers with currency converters and multiple languages. Less than a fifth of Top 1000 sites offer those options.
Other features are more common on the sites of retailers selling certain types of products. A good example is interactive product-search tools. These often take the form of style quizzes that ask consumers their preferences and then suggest products likely to suit them. Only 14.5% of Top 1000 retailers offers this feature, but it’s far more common on sites selling cosmetics, where nearly half of merchants offer this feature.
Live chat has become a common way for retailers to answer shoppers’ questions. It now appears on nearly six in 10 Top 1000 sites, unchanged from a year ago.
Despite all the talk about fast delivery — largely driven by Amazon’s ever-faster shipping policies — many Top 1000 retailers are resisting offering same-day and next-day delivery. Those two options were pricey before the pandemic and are more so now that labor is short and fuel prices are high. The percentage of the Top 1000 offering next-day delivery dipped to 37.4% in 2021 from 45.1% in 2020, while same-day delivery held relatively steady at just under 7%.
Another convenience feature nearly half of Top 1000 sites offered is online return processing, which allows the consumer to initiate a return on the retailer’s website. That speeds up the process and eases the burden on the shopper of making a return, which many consumers rank among the biggest pain points of online shopping.
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