Many online stores are lacking even the most basic usability features, but badly designed ecommerce sites are putting off potential online buyers, according to Silicon Valley research firm, Shelley Taylor & Associates.
Shelley Taylor, the firm?s managing director, said: "Virtual stores put a lot of roadblocks in the way of customers who want to make a purchase." Such roadblocks include poor organisation, which makes it difficult to navigate the store, and an almost total lack of presales assistance.
In a report published on Thursday, the company analysed 50 of the most popular ecommerce sites in the US and Europe and examined such criteria as whether there was a global navigation system and how many mouseclicks were required for users to make a purchase.
Of the sites surveyed, users took an average of between two and twelve mouse clicks to buy goods. Only 38 per cent of online stores were easy to view with a basic 600x800 screen resolution, while 24 per cent lacked a global navigation mechanism to enable customers to move directly from one major section of the site to another.
But some of the worst shortfalls were in customer service and support. Some 24 per cent offered no presales assistance, while 30 per cent did not provide easily accessible information on exchange and return policies. Only 20 per cent supplied a telephone number for service and support, and a mere four per cent offered customers the option of chatting with a representative online.
The research also unearthed some less obvious, but equally frustrating problems. For example, while most sites offered a Search window, only 36 per cent provided instructions on how to use it, and only 30 per cent informed users as to whether or not certain products were available prior to them placing an order.
However, the top three sites, according to Shelley Taylor & Associates, were CDNow, Barnes & Noble and Brainplay.
Source: VNU Newswire
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