January 19, 2005, 12:00 AM

Crate & Barrel, Red Envelope lead in Change Sciences’ holiday site review

A review of 15 top e-retail sites over the holidays shows that while some excelled in helping shoppers meet goals, there’s room for improvement. 40% of the sites gave gift suggestions that were off the mark, while 30% missed cross-sell opportunities.


A review of 15 top e-retail sites over the holiday shopping season by online research firm Change Sciences Group Inc. shows that despite efforts to buff up site operations for the holiday traffic onslaught, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. The company identified several areas where companies could have better supported the goals of online shoppers.

According to Change Sciences, more than half of the sites reviewed made it difficult to find gift ideas or use their holiday gift guides. 40% of the sites provided gift suggestions that were off the mark, while 30% missed cross-sell opportunities. 90% of them made it difficult for shoppers to get information about shipping and gift options before checkout, while 60% made it difficult to select gift options in the checkout process.

Based on their performance in the review, the web sites of Crate & Barrel, Red Envelope, and Home Depot – in that order – provided the best experience for online shoppers, followed by the sites of Gap, J. Crew, Target, Wal-Mart, Circuit City, Pottery Barn and Sears. Rounding out the top 15 were the sites of Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Macy’s, Nordstrom and Amazon.

“Retailers have come a long way in improving the checkout process for customers,” says Change Sciences partner Pamela Ellis. “But holiday shoppers are more demanding. Everyone wants to give a unique gift that arrived, wrapped and with a gift receipt, before December 25. This shouldn’t be hard to do, but it is harder than it should be on many popular retail sites.”


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