March 31, 2010, 12:00 AM

E-retailers reach out to engage shoppers

Online retailers did a better job last holiday season of making shopping easy and responding to inquiries.

As online retail sales perked up in the fourth quarter of 2009, many leading e-retailers did a better job of making their web sites easy to shop and responding promptly to consumer inquiries, retail consultancy The E-tailing Group Inc. found in its 12th Annual Mystery Shopping Study. “Throughout our review we observed merchants being attentive to efficiencies for ease of use, differentiators to drive conversion and involvers to engage customers,” the firm says in the study. The report notes, for example, that retailers such as Blue Nile and REI responded to customer e-mails in less than 30 minutes, and that most of the retailers in its E-tailing Group 100 study group let shoppers sort site search results by price, category and brand. Most also link to social networking sites. Other features are still less common, such as sorting site search results by top sellers and product style and fit.

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