Students next to FedEx logo
Master’s in marketing students Nathan Donohue, Hye-jin Kim,  Sonja Schulthesis and Kari Kelley worked on a Fed-Ex marketing team research project to uncover online consumer behaviors and retailer practices. In blue in the middle is Wendy Dawson, Retail and e-Commerce Specialist with FedEx.

A group of five master’s in marketing students were the working end of an intriguing consumer and retailer behavior research project sponsored by the FedEx Retail & e-Commerce Industry Marketing Team this spring.

Wendy Dawson, Nathan Donohue, Kari Kelley, Hye-jin Kim and Sonja Schulthesis conducted mystery shopping online of 40 retailers of apparel, electronics, entertainment and mass items. They researched such merchants as L.L. Bean, Gap, Dell, Best Buy, Barnes & Noble and Wal-Mart, purchasing similar items within each category as they kept up with a scorecard on merchandising, checkout functions, shipping, returns and channel integration.

What emerged as best practices? Sites that showed progress toward checkout, that allowed integration of shipment tracking within the retail site, and sites that gave detailed customer product reviews. For apparel retailers, best practices included easy product size and availability charts and the option to show clothing on a model. For electronics, allowing for store pickup and for one-click easy checkout emerged as winning ideas.

The team also surveyed more than 1,000 online shoppers about their consumer habits, finding that the assurance of personal security, shipping incentives, ease of checkout and ease of return were the most important factors for these consumers. Another finding was that retailer loyalty programs emerged as a key factor in encouraging repeat purchases.

— Staff Reports