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Shopability: Exceeding Customers' Expectations

Last year many online retailers failed their customers. Some sites couldn't handle the volume of visitors. Others promised that goods would arrive before Christmas, but couldn't deliver on time. General usability problems from having to register before being allowed to shop, to bells-and-whistles that took forever to download on dial-up modems, newcomers and seasoned retailers alike experienced problems meeting their customer's expectations.
What can online retailers do to not just meet, but exceed their customers' expectations this year? What creates a satisfied customer? Resource Marketing asked that question and according to the consumers they surveyed, it's executing the retail basics:

* Convenient shopping experience (speed and ease)

* Addressing questions or concerns (concern resolution)

* Good quality products at a fair price

* In-stock merchandise

* Timely and accurate order confirmation process

Under Promise and Over Deliver

Jupiter Research (http://www.jup.com) suggests steps online retailers can take:

* Monitor order backlog daily

* Communicate frequently with customers about changes in order status

* Keep flexible staff on call in distribution centers and call centers

* Make sure that promised delivery times can be met each day

Jupiter also advises online retailers to monitor customer contact volumes and continually reassess staffing forecasts, they should develop multi-tiered internal overflow support by preparing non-service departments, such as marketing, merchandising and finance.

Improve the Customer Experience
Creative Good - No matter how many customers complain about fulfillment problems, many more customers leave the site without complaining because the site is too hard to use. The e-commerce industry may avoid losing $14 billion in potential sales by creating a better online shopping experience for customers this holiday season. Improving the check-out experience alone could result in over $6.5 billion more in sales over the course of the holiday season. More...

eRetailNews - Be a time-saver and focus on how to help shoppers get what they need faster than the competition. Focus on delivering outstanding customer service to existing customers more than on attracting new customers. More...

PricewaterhouseCoopers and ERetailing World - Less than 15 percent of e-tailers give customers the ability to compare multiple products within categories or subcategories, and over 36 percent of e-tailers say they have no plans to develop this capability.


Take a Cue from the Brick-and-Mortars
Yankee Group - Gift certificates and gift-wrapping are traditional retailing's customer service holiday classics that many consumers assume will be available online as well. The Yankee Group's Online Retail Strategies Planning Service analyzed the "holiday shopping readiness" of the top 20 Online Retail Web sites on the basis of whether or not they offer gift certificates, gift-wrapping, gift-giving ideas and gift registries.

Resource Marketing - E-retailers will need to make many improvements to avoid another holiday train wreck on the Net. "Online sites need to work harder to earn those holiday gift dollars," said Kelly Mooney managing director of Intelligence for Resource." Gift services -- which consumers expect during the holidays, still remain one of the biggest oversights on the Web."


It's a Big World Out There
Patricia Seybold Group - This year, more of America's experienced shoppers will be shopping online for holiday gifts than ever before. And this year more of us will have a reasonably pleasant and fulfilling gift-shopping experience. Online shoppers in other parts of the world will still be frustrated, however. The majority of the world's online stores are still U.S.-centric. It remains difficult to fill in order forms for items to be delivered to overseas addresses. More...

PricewaterhouseCoopers and ERetailing World - Just 11 percent of online retailers handle multiple currencies and only 7 percent support multiple languages.

Did You Know...

Converting Shoppers to Customers
According to Boston Consulting Group and Shop.org, the average conversion rate for e-commerce sites is only 1.8 percent, meaning for every 1,000 visitors only 18 buy something.

Catalogs Dominate Direct-to-Consumer
JCPenney's catalog handles 457,000 transactions per day compared to 25,316 at Amazon.com and the top four catalog companies have twenty times more transactions per day than the top four pure-play e-tailers.

Additional Resources

10 Demandments for Earning Online Customer Loyalty
So what does it take to get and keep your online customers in today’s hypercompetitive marketplace? You can start by being loyal to them and Resource Marketing will tell you how.

Improved Customer Service Gives Retailers a Leg Up
Twenty percent improvement in customer service can lead to up to twenty percent increase in profits, shows study by Bain & Company and Mainspring.

Special Report Compiled by Melody Vargas

         

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