Kantar Media Compete recently released data indicating that successful retailers are using free shipping, sales and email promotions to attract increasingly budget-conscious consumers. The results, part of Kantar Media Compete’s quarterly Online Shopper Intelligence Study that tracks cross-channel shopping behavior, also show that more than a third of consumers reported that Twitter has been influential or extremely influential on purchase decisions.

EMAIL, SOCIAL NETWORKING INFLUENCE PURCHASE DECISIONS

Kantar Media Compete’s study also found that nearly one in three consumers receive more than 20 emails from retailers in a week. And in good news for retailers relying on email, 89% of respondents at least occasionally click through to a retail site from an email or visit a retail site immediately after reading an email.

SMS, on the other hand, is still a largely untapped channel for brands to reach shoppers. During a typical week, three out of four consumers (72.2%) don’t receive any text messages from retailers.

Do social networking sites influence purchase decisions? Yes. In fact, 35% of respondents say that Twitter feeds have been influential or extremely influential on purchase decisions, while 23.5% say that Facebook has been influential or extremely influential on purchase decisions.

CONSUMERS SAVE WITH SALES, COUPONS AND DEAL PROMOTIONS

Almost three quarters (72.6%) of shoppers wait for items to go on sale before they make a purchase. As additional proof of consumer restraint, more than half (55%) indicated that they are spending less on entertainment now than a year ago. And sixty percent of consumers buy private label (store brand) products if they are cheaper than the equivalent brand name products.

Consumers continue to be pulled in by coupons/coupon codes and daily deal/group discounts. One in five respondents used a coupon code on their most recent online purchase and nearly 60% said that they wouldn’t have made their most recent online purchase without a coupon code. A third (37%) report using coupons most of the time.

FREE SHIPPING INSPIRES MORE ONLINE PURCHASING, LESS SHOPPING CART ABANDONMENT

Three in four consumers surveyed by Kantar Media Compete said that free shipping would encourage them to purchase more products online. Other key purchasing motivators, all related to shipping as well, include free returns (56.3%), faster shipping (40.8%) and an in-store pickup option (39.6%).

As free shipping becomes increasingly mainstream, consumers have come to expect it — a shift from the old mindset in which free shipping was a bonus. Almost half (45.7%) of respondents received free shipping on their most recent online purchase and more than 60% avoid purchasing products online if they have to pay extra for shipping.

“The proliferation of free shipping is forcing retailers to decide whether the additional orders they gain by offering free shipping will offset the initial loss of shouldering this cost,” said Matt Pace, Kantar Media Compete managing director of retail and consumer products. “Online shoppers may stand to benefit from free shipping promotions as retailers determine how to incorporate it into their business model.”

[Source:  “Online Shopper Intelligence Study.”  Kantar Media Compete. 13 Sept. 2011.  Web.  13 Oct. 2011.]