March 26, 2002, 12:00 AM

The E-tailing Group picks its Top 10 e-retailers in customer service

Based on five metrics--time to shop, clicks to check out, time to receive merchandise, time to answer e-mail question and time to get credit for return--consultants The E-Tailing Group has named its top 10 online retailers.

Internet Retailer

Chicago consultants The E-Tailing Group Inc. has named its top 10 retail web sites for customer service. The E-Tailing Group surveyed 100 top sites during the first quarter and measured their performance on the basis of time to shop, number of clicks to check out, number of business days to receive merchandise, time to answer e-mail inquiry, and number of days to receive credit.

The E-Tailing Group’s Top 10 are:


Merchant Time to shop (in minutes) # Clicks to Check Out # Business Days to Receive Item #Hours:Minutes to Answer E-mail # Days to Receive Credit 4 3 4 6:46 10 7 6 3 1:26 21
CDNow 7 6 4 23:22 14 4 4 4 3:42 1
JC Penney 6 6 5 25:06:00 15
KB Toys 5 6 5 3:22 16
Lands’ End 4 5 3 2:03 6
Nordstrom’s 5 5 4 :41 4
Smith & Hawken 3 6 5 5:03 12
Sports Authority 4 5 4 25:07:00 10
Average of 100 Sites Shopped 5.3 5.36 3.8 21.08 11.9


"Exemplary customer service is critical to sustain successful e-commerce. These 10 sites set today’s standards for excellence in online customer service," said Lauren Freedman, president of The E-Tailing Group.

The E-Tailing Group mystery shopped 100 online merchants in 16 consumer categories during the 4th Quarter 2001 peak selling period.

Researchers used the followong criteria:

  • Order Process/Checkout: 6 or fewer clicks to checkout
  • Customer Service Information: 800 number and customer service hours visibly displayed
  • Gift Centric: offer gift center, gift suggestions and gift-wrap or messaging
  • Inventory/Backorders: real-time inventory in shopping cart or product page; online shipping status
  • Order Confirmation: order confirmation number in shopping cart, post order targeted e-mail, follow-up shipping confirmation e-mail, with order number included
  • Receipt of Goods: five or fewer days to receive package
  • E-mail Communication: answer e-mail questions within 25 hours on 1st attempt

Sites received bonus points for the following:

  • Live chat
  • International shipping destinations
  • Relevant up-sells
  • Pre-orders
  • Free shipping/Conditional free shipping
  • Enhanced merchandising in e-mail communications

The rankings were the result of research that The E-Tailing Group performed for the Direct Marketing Association’s report Merchandising Scan and Mystery Shopping/State of Customer Service Online.


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