A recent report reveals the best and worst retail Web sites evaluated by online shopping experiences.
Posted Nov 30, 2005
Amazon.com is providing shoppers with the best online shopping experience so far this holiday season, according to a report from Blast Radius. The rankings were based not just on the online experience, but also on the experience shoppers had compared to what they expected, according to Idris Mootee, Blast chief strategist. The research went beyond the Web sites themselves to evaluate the entire online shopping experience, including fulfillment and returns. The ranking also took into account the experiences of customers across different channels for those companies using multiple channels, like L.L. Bean, which finished closely behind Amazon.com in the final ratings.
Therefore, a company promising great customer service, like Amazon, had to deliver on that promise and had to do a better job than a company not known for good service, like certain retailers.
A Blast panel found an overall lack of innovation with many companies having very generic experiences that fail to take the needs of customers into account. Other common shortcomings include a noticeable gap between the promise of the brand and the actual experience, and an inability to deliver a seamless experience across all channels and phases of the retail experience.
Amazon.com has some shortcomings, but the e-commerce pioneer earned points for demonstrating a deep understanding of customer needs. At the bottom of the list, electronics retailer PC Mall, placed last due to some fundamental flaws: poor product presentation and unclear pricing, problems that were compounded by technical difficulties, which prevented researchers from completing a transaction. A noticeable weak spot for many online retailers, including top-ranked Amazon.com, was the handling of returns. The problem, according to Blast, is that online customers are usually led through a complicated, poorly explained, and often costly return process.
According to Mootee, another common downfall was inconsistency across channels, with many brick and mortar retailers undermining their brand by failing to extend their brand experience into the online world. Another area where some online retailers could improve, Mootee adds, is by better packaging/linkages, much like Amazon.com does with providing purchasers of a product with samples of what other purchasers of that same product have bought.
Beyond this type of linkage, which is somewhat seasoned in the marketplace, online retailers should also provide other linkages to associated products, services, etc., along either price guidelines (i.e., under $50) or products (i.e., different types of landscaping supplies), according to Mootee.
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