Survey: Most Online Merchants Focusing on Efficiency, Convenience and Customer-Centricity
For most of the 100 sites visited during the e-tailing group's 10th annual Mystery Shopping Survey, there is a focus on efficiency, convenience, timeliness and customer-centricity. But, the study also found, some merchants' sites have lots of room for improvement.
For example, according to the survey, many e-tailers empower customers to shop and manage their purchases. Eighty-three percent of those surveyed for instance, offer comprehensive FAQs to help shoppers quickly understand a site. What's more, 86 percent offer real-time inventory to let shoppers know what's available, and 90 percent offer stepped checkout - which clearly details the steps in the checkout process so customers know exactly where they are in the purchasing process. Finally, 99 percent offer online order tracking, which facilitates follow-up without the expense of call-center intervention.
In the service equation, convenience is readily apparent in the cart and confirmation, the survey found. For example, 72 percent of respondents offer a perpetual cart that allows shoppers to see what they have selected and how much they have spent without interrupting their flow. Seventy-four percent offer pictures of items in one's cart in an effort to assist recall, and 77 percent offer a recap of cart contents in the order confirmation.
The survey found, however, a notable decline in the number of sites that include customer service contact information in the order confirmation - 70 percent in 2007 vs. 85 percent in 2006.
The survey also found that timely post-order communication and product delivery are almost universal. For example, more e-mail shipping confirmations were received in 2007 versus 2006 (95 percent vs. 88 percent), and the number of business days to receive a product continues to decrease across the board (4.18 vs. 4.6). However, fewer sites (95 percent vs. 100 percent) provided immediate order confirmations onsite.