February 22, 2008, 12:00 AM

E-Tailing Group index debuts with QVC.com topping the chart

HSN.com, REI.com and the web sites of Nordstrom and eBags round out the top five merchants in the consulting group’s new index that provides an overall rating of 100 top online retailers’ e-commerce sites.

QVC.com was the highest-scoring merchant in the E-Tailing Index, newly launched by The E-Tailing Group. The index, an outgrowth of the consulting group’s annual Mystery Shopping Study now in its tenth year, ranks the 100 e-commerce sites it mystery shops on selected metrics on key pages, as well as the presence and execution of merchandising and customer service tactics.

“The new index enables merchants to specifically quantify how they stack up – against the E-Tailing 100, their category and direct competition,” says E-Tailing Group president Lauren Freedman. Following QVC.com, No. 14 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites, which scored a rank of 86.5 overall in the index, were HSN.com with a score of 82.0, REI.com at 80.5, and Nordstrom and eBags each at 80.0 points. HSN.com is part of IAC/Interactive Corp., No. 26 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. REI is No. 61, Nordstrom No. 40 and eBags No. 92.

Freedman notes that among the 100 retail sites shopped, index scores broke into three groups. About 40% of sites, classified by Freedman as “most evolved,” scored above 70. Another 44%, indexing in the 60-70 range, were rated average or just below average, while the remaining 16%, with scores of less than 60, have “significant room for improvement,” Freedman says.

The index also evaluated merchant sites by category, with index scores across 14 retail vertical categories averaging 67.9%. Mass merchants scored the highest among the categories at 75.13. Rounding out the top five highest-indexing categories were department stores with a score of 74.60, technology merchants at 74.39, office supply retailers at 73.74, and retailers of books, music and media, 71.38.

While previous Mystery Shopper studies have rated sites on whether a given feature or functionality was present, the new index’s scoring and weighting of the metrics it gathers offers a more qualitative view, according to Freedman. “This allows merchants to efficiently target areas for improvement as well as to maintain parity within their category and the industry at large,” she adds.

Freedman is speaking at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, June 9-12 in Chicago.

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