Web site owners have been urged to enhance transparency and usability if they want to cash in on the estimated £13.16bn spent by UK online shoppers in the run up to Christmas.
Research carried out earlier this year by e-Digital Research for industry body IMRG found that 68 per cent of shoppers would be more likely to shop online for Christmas presents this year, and more than three-quarters plan to carry out about half or more of their Christmas shopping online.
But e-retailers could be missing out by failing to optimise the customer experience, according to web analytics firm WebTrends.
Conrad Bennett, senior technical director at WebTrends, argued that traders need to make sure that visitors to their sites can find what they're looking for easily, and understand clearly at all times where they are in the buying process.
"So if you offer a search function on your web site, which is highly advisable, good indexing is crucial, and don't make it necessary to have a log-in to use the search function," he said.
"The buying process should be kept brief and to the point, and there should be complete clarity about the final cost from the outset. Customers hate nasty surprises at the end of the purchasing process and will often simply break off the procedure, never to return."
Web site owners should also avoid "excessively data-rich applications" because they may affect the performance of the site, and be unsuitable for the products advertised, advised Bennett.
"While online videos, animations, blogs, etc are right for some online retailers, they are completely wrong for others," he added.
"In fact, when in doubt don't even think about Flash. It slows the process and, unless it really does add value, you will be losing users every second it takes to load."
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