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Online retailers fail to exploit the sales potential of their websites,study reveals

Added-value content ignored with only 15% incorporating a blog and 75% failing to include social networks links

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Online retailers fail to exploit the sales potential of their websites,study reveals

Many UK retailers are neglecting to include added-value content and features on their websites that will encourage repeat visits, high transaction values and ongoing brand loyalty, a new study from dotCommerce reveals today.

Hitting The Checkout, which assessed 20 of the leading UK-based

retailers, highlights that while most have the basics of ecommerce covered, the majority are failing to embrace the rise of Web 2.0 content, such as blogs, videos and user-generated content, or demonstrate integration with marketing tools, such as email and social media links.

The benchmark study assessed the ecommerce platforms of some of the UK's leading retailers across a range of different sectors. Each site was evaluated against 26 criteria within seven categories - site content, design, product search, product page, marketing, checkout and after sale - with each retailer awarded a total score out of 100.

Marks and Spencer (82%) and John Lewis (78%) topped the eCommerce League Table, demonstrating that they were going beyond the basics and delivering a rich experience to website visitors, which was clearly integrated with email, after sales and marketing initiatives. However, health and beauty retailers fared badly, with Virgin Vie At Home (62%), The Fragrance Shop (56%) and Avon (54%) languishing at the bottom. The average score was 68%, with only the top two retailers scoring more than three quarters of the marks, suggesting there is still some work to do.

Added-value content

Few retailers provided sufficient added-value content for website users, above and beyond their product detail. For example, less than half (45%) offered any kind of editorial material on their sites to engage customers and facilitate cross-sell. In addition, just 10% allowed users to submit comments or product reviews and only 15% included a blog - valuable for search engine optimisation and customer retention.

Other popular Web 2.0 features were missing too, with only half of retailers using video content to give an extra dimension to the online shopping experience. Three out of four also failed to leverage the rise of social networks by not bookmarking links that will allow visitors to share information on interesting products directly with like-minded friends and peers.

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