The holidays prove to be a joyous time for e-tailers

The 2003 online holiday season saw strong growth and satisfied consumers, according to the fourth and final phase of the Shop.org/BizRate 2003 eHoliday Mood Study.

According to the survey, 59% of retailers reported revenue growth for the 2003 online holiday season of 25% or higher. And 30% reported revenue increases of 50% or more. And consumers were largely satisfied with their online shopping experience, according to the survey. Almost 90% of shoppers were somewhat or very satisfied with their online buying experience, up from 84% in 2002.

“The 2003 holiday season continues the successes of last year,” said Chuck Davis, president and CEO of BizRate.com. “Online retailers created marketing messages that resonated with their customers, who went to merchants’ Web sites to buy the great deals they were offered.”

As far as promotions, free shipping with conditions was cited by 59% of merchants as their most successful marketing promotions, followed by an online-only sale (27%), and free shipping with no conditions. (24%). E-mail was the clear leader among retailers for getting their promotions in front of shoppers, with 86% citing their own email promotions as one of their most successful marketing vehicles. The survey reports that “shoppers are clearly reading their messages,” as 38% of merchants stated their email open rates had increased significantly or somewhat from the previous year.

The eHoliday Mood Study was conducted during the four weeks of the holiday season. Throughout all four phases of the survey, search engine marketing and affiliate marketing remained the second and third most successful marketing vehicle for retailers. According to the survey, for the entire holiday season 58% of merchants cited search engine marketing as their most successful marketing vehicle. Affiliate marketing was cited as most successful by 50% of merchants.

“Online retailers are becoming more sophisticated in their marketing and merchandising efforts, as they continue to be integrated into their companies’ overall operations,” said Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org. “This benefits both retailers and their customers.”

The Shop.org/BizRate.com 2003 eHoliday Mood Study was designed to gauge consumer behavior and online retailers success during the winter holiday season. The poll of 5,163 online buyers (defined as anyone who has made a purchase online in the last twelve months) and more than 80 online retailers, all members of Shop.org, was conducted Dec. 29-30.