December 18, 2008, 12:00 AM

Out of stocks and inadequate product data plague consumer electronics sites

Nearly half of shoppers are leaving consumer electronics sites because of a lack of product information and inventory, an iPerceptions survey finds.

Inadequate product information and inventory is causing nearly one in two consumers to leave consumer electronics sites without accomplishing their purpose for visiting the site this holiday season, according to a fourth quarter by customer opinion web analytics firm iPerceptions.

The survey of more than 300,000 web site visitors in November and December shows only about 60% of consumers were able to complete the task that brought them to a consumer electronics site, such as purchasing, doing research or looking for a local store. The task completion rate dropped to 52% on the Friday after Thanksgiving and 54% the following Monday, survey data showed.

Only 13% of consumers leaving sites with tasks uncompleted cited product pricing as the barrier. That’s consistent with online retailers’ efforts to discount merchandise to move inventory this season, according to iPerceptions. Consumers more often cited barriers at the product level, including a lack of detailed product information on the site, cited by 33%; items out of stock, cited by 30%; and wanting more variety and selection, cited by 14%.

IPerceptions says e-retailers suffer when consumers are unable to accomplish their goals. According to iPerceptions, site visitors who are able to complete the task that brought them to a site are twice as likely to make a repeat visit. 67% who completed their task report a better opinion of the brand, while 60% report a higher future likelihood of purchasing online or offline from that retailer.

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