February 4, 2004, 12:00 AM

The key to consumer comfort--e-retailing’s emerging standard practices

Web shopping is becoming standardized with certain practices showing up on 85% or more of the sites shopped by Chicago-based consultants The E-Tailing Group Inc.

Web shopping is becoming standardized with certain practices showing up on 85% or more of the sites shopped by Chicago-based consultants The E-Tailing Group Inc.

"Just as there are norms for catalog and store presentation, web-selling has evolved to the point where customers have expectations that must be met in order to deliver a comprehensive shopping experience," says Lauren Freedman, president of The E-Tailing Group. "Standardization makes customers more comfortable shopping online as they know what to expect. These consumers have learned where to look for key information, promotions and cross-channel conveniences.

The E-Tailing Group’s categories, with practices and percent of sites among the group’s 100 surveyed sites that include that practice are:
Customer service information
Toll-free customer service number: 96%
Privacy Policy link on the home page: 91%
FAQs: 89%
Contact Information: 98%

Merchandising tools
Keyword Search: 96%
Sales & Specials: 85%
Targeted email post-order: 95%

Multi-channel tools
Store Locator: 97%
Free Catalog: 98%
Request a Catalog: 90%

Order process
Online shipping status: 91%
Immediate order confirmation number in the shopping cart: 89%
Post-order email confirmation: 98%

"As e-tailers conduct post-holiday site audits and plan 2004 enhancements, they should understand that the following metrics are now essential,” Freedman says. “In addition to improving customers` shopping experiences, their presence contributes to site efficiency and productivity."

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