There's no question that online shoppers are drawn to free shipping offers, and retailers are well aware of this. Over 60% of the e-retailers who responded to a survey by WebTrends, a leader in Web analytics, said they plan to offer free shipping this holiday season. Other popular holiday promotions captured by the WebTrends survey include variations on programs that reward buyers with free gifts and price discounts. While promotions are effective at bringing shoppers to a Web site, their ability to create long-term loyalty is less certain. This is because promotions are easy to imitate, making it difficult for a retailer to hold any competitive advantage it gains. When online shoppers are asked what elements create a satisfying online shopping experience, they usually cite such basics as good prices, wide product selection, quality products, and an easy to navigate Web site. Because these elements are harder to implement, they are also harder for competitors to match. The impact of marketing promotions on customer loyalty will be discussed at greater length in eMarketer's upcoming annual preview of the online holiday season.
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