August 28, 2003, 12:00 AM

When it comes to web site information, the more, the better

Online retailers can learn about design and functionality of their sites by reviewing customers’ comments and questions coming into the call center or through e-mail or live chat, Kim Land, vice president Godiva Direct tells Internet Retailer.

Online retailers can learn about the design and functionality of their sites by reviewing customers’ comments and questions coming into the call center or through e-mail or live chat, says Kim Land, vice president of Godiva Chocolatier Inc.’s Godiva Direct. For instance, Godiva increased the detail about the contents of gift boxes after listening to call center tapes and reviewing live chat sessions. “Very often, people were asking for recommendations,” Land says. “We found it better to provide tools at the site rather than have customers turn to live chat.”

Among the changes the review prompted was a gift selector. Among its features is a cost calculator that allows a customer who needs to buy multiple gifts within a budget to enter into input fields the number of gifts, total budget and whether the gifts will go to a single address or multiple addresses. The calculator then recommends products based on the cost of the merchandise and the shipping charges. The customer picks the product, adds to shopping cart and checks out. “It resulted in a significant increase in average order size and in the number of gifts to over 10 recipients,” Land says. “We made it really quick for people.”

The gift selector was part of ongoing changes that Godiva makes to its site, Land says. The latest round included information about product packaging, including the ability to zoom in on details such as the bow or the ribbon on a box. It also included greater detail about box contents, including a section where customers can view descriptions of the pieces of chocolate and find boxes that contain those pieces and the ability to view the contents of a box and learn more about the individual pieces. “You can find the pieces you like, then find a box that contains those pieces, or you can find a box you like and see what pieces are in it,” Land says.

Godiva’s experience is part of the trend toward more information on retail web sites, says Bridget Fahrland, executive creative director of Fry Inc., which designed the Godiva site. “A couple of years ago, everyone thought it was not smart to have too much information on the web site,” she says. “But today customers are going to the web site for all the product information.” For instance, Graco Children`s Products Inc.’s includes information about dimensions, weight, appropriate age, suggested uses and even a downloadable manual for baby strollers. “It’s not exciting, but it’s critical for people to get over the hurdle of buying online,” says president David Fry.

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