February 10, 2003, 12:00 AM

Online florist sites need perking up, study says

Online florists should communicate shipping costs to customers as a way to combat a perception that online flowers cost more than offline, concludes a new study by Web Mystery Shoppers International Inc.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

 

Online florists should communicate shipping costs to customers as a way to combat a perception that online flowers cost more than offline, concludes a new study by Web Mystery Shoppers International Inc.

"Prices may not actually be higher online," says Tema Frank, founder and president of Edmonton, AB-based Web Mystery Shoppers International, "but shoppers are left feeling that they are over-paying. Shipping costs are hidden--73% of respondents didn`t know the total costs before they had to give their personal credit card information."

115 mystery shoppers evaluated FTD.com, 1stinflowers.com, Flowers.com, Proflowers.com and Urbanflorist.com in December and January. Nearly 30% said shipping prices were so high they would not buy from these sites, the study reports.

Another major concern is site responsiveness, Web Mystery Shoppers says. 34% of shoppers got error messages when trying to place their orders. Those messages may have been the result of a system error or a consumer error, such as inputting a credit card number with spaces when the system requires no spaces. “To the consumer it doesn’t matter,” Frank says. “All the consumer knows is that she had a hassle in trying to place the order.” Error rates ranged from 20% to 45%, Frank says.

 

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