July 7, 2005, 12:00 AM

57% of Internet retailers in the U.K. offer online order tracking

Only 57% of 100 Internet retailer sites reviewed in the United Kingdom offer online order tracking, according to a new study by Snow Valley for the Interactive Media in Retail Group.

Only 57% of 100 Internet retailer sites reviewed in the United Kingdom offer online order tracking, according to a new study by Snow Valley for the Interactive Media in Retail Group.

The study found that online tracking varied within sectors. But overall, about one-half of retailers of clothing and electrical goods offered the service. Entertainment and gift retailers also were more likely to make online tracking available. That compared with 40% of sports retailers.

In another important customer-service area-returns-96% of the sites offered links to returns information on the home page, the study found. However, more than half of the sites labeled the link “Help,” “Customer Service,” or “Terms and Conditions.”

In addition, 12% of the sites gave customers little or no information on how the returns process worked, often directing them to paperwork or customer service, the study found. Return options varied, with 46% of the retailers giving customers the single option of returning unwanted goods by mail.

Nearly half of the sites expected the customer to pay postage on returns, with 35% of sites covering the costs. Another 10% of sites were unclear about who paid postage on returned goods.

Clothing retailers and DIY sites were more likely to cover the cost of returns while the sports sector and electrical goods retailers left it to customers to pay the postage.

The 100 sites reviewed included 21 clothing retailers, 23 electrical goods retailers, three wine retailers, six DIY, seven gift retailers, 10 sports retailers, and eight entertainment retailers.

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