American consumers were less concerned with costs during the 2011 holiday shopping season than last year, according to the Foresee E-Retail Satisfaction Index published Dec. 28.

The study, according to marketing expert Charles Gaudet, backs up his conviction that business owners shouldn't solely focus on price cutting in order to increase sales.

"Any time a business competes on price, they run the risk of becoming marginalized and commoditized in the eyes of their customer," said Gaudet, a marketing blogger on PredictableProfits.com. "As with any commodity-based business, the danger exists in low customer loyalty, not to mention fewer profits. All it takes is a competitor to offer a cheaper price and the results could become catastrophic to an entrepreneurs' bottom-line."

In fact, Gaudet said that consumers' rank several factors as more important than price and suggested that retailers focus on the following:

Shopping Experience
Is your store or website easy to navigate? Do you provide staff or information that makes it easy for the customer to find the best product to meet their needs and wants? Is your staff friendly, knowledgeable and trustworthy?

Convenience
Does your business have 24/7 support or is at least open during the busiest times? Do you offer free shipping? How quickly will your customer receive their order?

Product Guarantee
Is your return policy painless and easy for your customer to take advantage of? Does your return policy give your customer sufficient time to test the product to make sure that it meets their needs? What is the guarantee to ensure a properly functioning product and what happens if there is a defect?

"We've seen Zappos, a billion dollar company, grow in record time, not because they have the least expensive shoes, because they certainly do not, but they offer one of the best online shopping experiences in the industry with their 24/7 customer service, free upgraded shipping, 365 day return policy, free return shipping, detailed product education and customer reviews," Gaudet said.

Read more about consumer behavior.

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