November 30, 2007, 12:00 AM

A study of 69 web site factors shows e-retailers have a long way to go

A study of 300 retail web sites shows that most have a long way to go to create an outstanding customer experience. SmartBargains.com, the best retailer of the 300 in the study by Future Now Inc. scored only 67 out of 100 possible points.

 

A study of 300 retail web sites shows that most have a long way to go to create an outstanding customer experience. SmartBargains.com, the best retailer of the 300 in the study by Future Now Inc., an online marketing technology and consulting company, scored only 67 out of 100 possible points. “Even the top-rated company has plenty of room to go before it has thoroughly delighted its customers and improved its bottom line,” the report says.

The study examined the 300 sites to determine their use of 69 factors that Future Now characterizes as reflecting customer focus.

Among the findings that Future Now says reflect the need for major improvements are:

  • 38% of sites have fonts that are difficult to read. “This is especially telling considering this year our average age of reviewer was younger than ever before,” the report says. Presumably, older reviewers would have an even harder time with those fonts. Only 14% of the sites allow customers to change the default font size while viewing a web site.
  • Only 37% offer multiple image views of products and 24% do not allow customers to enlarge the product image.
  • 61% do not offer any information on the product page regarding in-stock availability.
  • Only 58% correctly answer an e-mail question within 24 hours.
  • 42% provide shipping cost early in the checkout process.
  • 35% have a checkout process with more than four steps.

Future Now says the Top 15 web sites in meeting the 69 criteria were:
• 1. SmartBargains.com, 67
• 2. BestBuy.com, 66
• 3. Compactappliance.com, 66
• 4. BlueNile, 65
• 5. EasternMountainSport, 64
• 6. BackCountry.com, 63
• 7. TigerDirect.com, 63
• 8. CDUniverse.com, 63
• 9. Ebags.com, 63
• 10. Staples.com, 63
• 11. AmericanMusical.com, 62
• 12. LandsEnd.com, 62
• 13. Crutchfield.com, 62
• 14. Walmart.com, 62
• 15. Walgreens.com, 62

 

Future Now’s criteria included:
• the quality and detail of images
• how well the product copy description answered shoppers’ implicit questions;
• whether the retailer offered customer reviews;
• how the retailer met shoppers’ gift buying needs with such services as gift wrapping, messaging or gift certificates;
• the ease and simplicity to check out;
• the retailer’s ability to address shoppers’ concerns with easy to find information on return policies, guarantees, third party seals and security assurances;
• the ease and clarity of retailer return policies;
• whether the retailer provided shipping and tax totals early in the checkout;
• whether the retailer offered multiple payment options;
• whether the retailer offered estimated delivery times and showed in-stock availability for items;
• whether the retailer offered in-store pick-up, where physical stores exist.

By category, Future Now ranked the best as follows:
Apparel/Fashion
1. eBags.com
2. LandsEnd.com
3. Lids.com, Bluefly.com, LLBean.com

Electronics
1. BestBuy.com
2. TigerDirect.com
3. Crutchfield.com

Food
1. SurLaTable.com
2. Cooking.com
3. Berries.com

Jewelry
1. BlueNile.com
2. Ice.com
3. Diamond.com

Children/Toys
1. OneStepAhead.com
2. KBToys.com
3. BabyAge.com

Housewares/Kitchen Supplies
1. CompactAppliance.com
2. BedBathandBeyond.com
3. SurLaTable.com

Office
1. Staples.com
2. OfficeDepot.com
3. OfficeMax.com

Mass Merchants
1. SmartBargains.com
2. Walmart.com
3. Target.com

 

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