Using promotional items may be one way online retailers can reach out to and connect with their customer base.

Ecommerce is massive – data published recently by the Office for National Statistics show that internet sales accounted for 9.6 per cent of all retail spending in September.

But there is still a sense among some consumers that the online world is cold and distant, less welcoming and interactive than the physical high street.

To encourage those customers who still feel put off by the online sphere, retailers could use promotional merchandise to help forge connections with consumers.

According to internet psychologist Graham Jones there are a number of reasons why online shopping is different to offline shopping.

“Online people do not browse. They generally know what they want in advance, find it and buy it. Offline, people tend to make shopping a social experience – going to town with your friends – and so you end up browsing and buying things you did not necessarily set out to buy,” he explained.

Mr Jones said one of the best ways to get people to spend more with online shops is to build better relationships.

“People buy from people they know, like and trust. In high street stores this is easy because we get to know the store assistants. Online this is tough for companies.”

So how do firms set about developing this relationship?

“Getting to know people individually on a one-to-one basis,” Mr Jones said.

Think about it – why not send promotional merchandise to a customer when they make that first purchase?

Posted by Robin McCrink