"Power shoppers," those who shop online at least three times per month, buy more often from innovative, better performing sites, found a recent study.

The survey of 591 consumers, conducted by Cambridge, Mass.-based software makers Allurent and Endeca, found that 51 percent of shoppers prefer sites that show uniqueness and innovation—but 45 percent said that all sites seem the same, the only difference being price and availability.

Ninety-three percent of power shoppers said that it's a critical need that sites have fresher content and new features to improve user experience, including easy-to-use checkout, easy browsing and item-location, and clear and simply accessible product information.

Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru agreed that shoppers are becoming more sophisticated. "Consumers expect to get material more rapidly, in a more easy-to-manipulate form," she said. "If it takes too long to load, there are too many other options—anyone without great performance metrics will suffer," she said.

"In 2009, I think we will see that those retailers who continue to innovate on their online shopping sites are the winners, while those who do not are left behind," said Graeme Grant, COO at Allurent, in a statement.

Ultimately, Mulpuru explained, a good website is one more minimum requirement for retailers to meet: "It's table stakes to have a good web experience."