Survey: E-mail Response Times Flagging

Although e-commerce sites have made progress in a number of areas during the past year, they fall short when it comes to responding to customer e-mails, according to a study by The E-tailing Group.

Among the 100 Websites anonymously visited by the online consultancy during the fourth quarter of 2003, the average time between sending a customer-service-related e-mail and receiving a reply was 25 hours. That’s more than six hours longer than the 18.73 hours it took the previous year. Gifts marketer RedEnvelope replied most quickly, in eight minutes.

The average number of clicks from product to checkout decreased slightly, from 4.9 in 2002 to 4.6. Apparel marketer Men’s Warehouse required just two clicks; RedEnvelope and general merchandiser J.C. Penney Corp. required only three.

The overall time to shop averaged 3.67 minutes, down from 4.08 minutes the previous year. The speediest sites, on which took just three minutes to shop, were Penney, apparel and home goods cataloger Lands’ End, Men’s Wearhouse, apparel, home goods, and sporting goods cataloger Orvis, and pet supplies marketer Petco.

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