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A new study of the UK's online retailers has revealed that many e-commerce sites are not offering customers a range of contact details, while many offer limited delivery options and no customer feedback features.

The survey,  from website monitoring firm NetExtract analysed a sample of 10,000 e-commerce websites in the UK. It found that many e-commerce sites are missing very basic options.

Findings of the survey:

  • Contact details
    Incredibly. 60% of UK online retailers provided no telephone number on their website, 43% displayed no business address, while 39% had no contact email address.

    In addition, 30% of sites profiled provided no telephone number or email address.

    This is surprising, given that providing contact details is a very basic thing for websites, and is absolutely essential as a way of reinforcing customer trust. I would never buy anything from such a site, and a recent UK survey suggested that 50% of online shoppers wouldn't buy without contact details either.

  • Delivery options
    11% of etailers provided a free postage or delivery service, while only 15%  offered a next day or Special Delivery service. Of the delivery companies named on the websites Royal Mail was identified in 17% of cases.
  • Customer reviews
    The study found that only 38% of online retailers have a testimonial or comments section on their website.

    More than half of the UK's online consumers say that reviews are important in the buying process, while similar numbers have more trust and respect for those brands which display reviews.

    Our recent Social Commerce Report found that online retailers are beginning to catch on. Our report found that customer ratings/reviews are being used by 28% of online retailers, and that more than half were considering adding such a feature to their websites.

Related stories:
Establishing trust in the buying process  

Related research:
Social Commerce Report 2007 

Graham Charlton

Published 19 September, 2007 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

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Mark Kirby

Excellent to see reinforcement of this message.

As an owner of an outsourced call centre bureau, we are seeing ecommerce business support as our fastest growing sector, but we are only skimming the surface, as supported by this research.

I recently wanted to buy a Plasma TV, and was amazed at how many sites did not provide contact details, including a phone number, whilst still wanting me to part with over £2000! As many would, I went with a company that I had contact details of - providing some assurance that if there were issues, I had a point of contact.

Only today, we were handling calls for one of our fastest growing online retailers where there were delivery issues with some of their customers. Our staff were able to pacify 3 very disgruntled customers who had threated to cancel their orders - totaling over £700.

I guess the point is that web trading is not just about sales , it is about maintaining the delivery promise - and the ongoing relationship and reputation. I often see that many e-tailers forget how often delivering the promise can have just as detrimental affect on the turnover as the cost of acquisition.

Nice article e-consultancy!

Mark Kirby
www.goresponse.co.uk

almost 9 years ago

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C Derrick

I am an individual, running a small website selling artwork. All my contact details are available, and I pack and post everything out myself. The only issue I have here is with regard to testimonials and customer feedback; a lot of art buyers don't necessarily want their comments put up online, even if they are happy with their purchases. Occasionally I get a one-liner email response such as "picture arrived, great....." and that's it.
You have to surely ask people's permission to put their names online with their comments and there's a lot of reluctance. As it is, how many online "testimonials" are actually genuine and provable? I could write them all myself!
Maybe customer review systems are only really of any value to larger traders.
On the other side of the coin, I have come across a lot of online galleries that offer no form of contact at all, bar an email address. I thought it was a legal requirement for sellers to display an "offline" contact address. Many of them ask for sign-up fees for artists to display their work....needless to say, if there are no proper contact details then I don't sign.

over 8 years ago

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Sameh Strauch

I bought a 19" widescreen monitor made by Cibox from a website called PCSolutions BD. After a few months the monitor ceased to work and in spite of numerous emails, letters and phone calls to a recorded message (no answering machine) to the above company - including threats of legal action - they continued to ignore me. It was only when my local computer shop put me in touch with the Cibox office in the UK that I got it replaced through them. Meanwhile PCSolutions BD has changed its name (I presume they went out of business due to their shoddy customer relations and started up a new company). Their new website has a warning that should anything they sell break down, they are not responsible and the item should be returned to the manufacturer. Surely, this is not legal? My point is, even though a company may supply a postal address, phone number and service email address, it doesn't guarantee that they will provide any after sales service. In future, I will only buy from reputable online companies.

over 8 years ago

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Jen

When searching for a digital camera I was surprised by the amount of sites I found without contact details. Looking into these sites further, I found that they usually were sites that would "fail" when taking credit card payments but instead would have gathered your card details in order to sell them on. I even found sites that did list an address with a phone number but the phone number did not work, and the address didn't exist or made no sense.

It just shows that you should definitely double check these details before purchasing online! Just because you don't know the company doesn't mean that they're not legit - but it IS worth calling the numbers shown and checking the address to make sure they're a real company.

Of course that's no guarantee of good service!

Do we have any laws in the UK about this typr of thing? SHowing contact details I mean. I know that there is a law in Germany where they must display their legal information on every website. Do we have anything similar here to protect consumers and try and weed out the bad websites?

almost 7 years ago

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