Study shows improved Web service

Marketers are making it easier for consumers to shop online, at least according to a survey conducted by the Direct Marketing Association and Chicago-based consultancy The E-tailing Group. For instance, the survey found that the average number of clicks necessary to complete an order was a mean 5.36, down significantly from 8.76 clicks a year earlier.

Among other findings: 54% of sites offered real-time inventory status, compared to 42% a year ago; 46% of sites offered gift search features, compared to only 14% last year. And shoppers were able to successfully complete an order on the first attempt at 93% of the sites tested. A whopping 90% of sites linked to privacy policies directly from their home page, and 80% sent e-mail shipping confirmations, up from 54% last year. Seventy-nine percent of the sites enabled customers to check their order status online.

Conducted during the fourth quarter of 2001, the study involved the purchasing of one product from 100 e-commerce sites in 16 product categories. The research studied more than 100 factors across 13 “tool sets” that included customer service, gift services, promotional strategies, inventory/backorders, order processes and tracking, shipping, order confirmations, and post-order e-mail communications.