January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

What do e-customers want? Reliability

Many consumers are wary and distrustful of online retailers, and these feelings prevent online retailing from becoming even bigger than it already is, according to a Purdue University e-retail researcher. "Fifty to 75% of consumers do not complete online purchases of items they want because of poorly designed Web sites," says Richard A. Feinberg, professor of consumer sciences and retailing. "The most frequent button clicked on e-retail sites is the back button, which is an expression of people's frustration with poor site design and frustration with the e-shopping experiences. If e-retailers are to succeed, they are going to have to create trust and exceed customers' expectations better than they have in the past."

The crux of the matter, according to Feinberg, is that negative experiences at an e-retail site make it less likely that the consumer will return to that specific site or to other sites. The top customer gripes about online shopping, according to customer surveys, are:
-- Slow web sites: 48%;
-- Products unavailable: 31%;
-- Late deliveries: 30%;
-- Inability to track order status: 25%;
-- Web site outage: 22%.

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