Web Sites More Consumer Friendly

Dec 11, 2003

By George Anderson

Online sales are off to a strong start for the holiday season and part of that is due to consumers being more comfortable with the process of ordering goods over the Internet.

The increase in comfort, say some retailers, is directly related to changes they have made to their Web sites and fulfillment operations.

Greg Sweeney, general manager of direct marketing for Brookstone, told Investor’s Business Daily the retailer eliminated a complete step in the ordering process to make it easier
for customers.

“We have seen a 20% improvement in our conversion rate, so we think this prepares us well for the holiday season,” he said.

Home Depot, was another retailer that reduced steps it takes for customers to checkout.

Shelley Nandkeolyar, Home Depot’s vice president of interactive marketing and e-business pointed to one advantage of the virtual shopping experience during the busy holiday selling
period. “You can go online and buy something in about three or four minutes as opposed to going to a store and looking for parking.”

PianoQuest, a piano retailer, looked to improve the shopping experience for its customers by addressing issues that went beyond the company’s Web site.

The company president, John Tennant, said PianoQuest added Fedex delivery to reduce the amount of time it takes for the customer to receive their piano. Shipping times using
this method enable pianos to be delivered in as little as five days compared to normal delivery that may take up to three weeks.

Circuit City revamped its site to offer a bigger variety of products, a gift center and special online discounts for the holidays.

Fiona Dias, president of Circuit City Direct, explained the necessity of the changes.

“The traffic at the site is equal to the amount of foot traffic coming into our stores,” she said. “The Web site is also the first place (consumers) go before they go to the

Moderator’s Comment: Are online retailers more consumer-friendly than in the past? What retailers standout for offering the best (or worst) customer
experience and why?

Barnes and Noble’s free overnight delivery in our area has us making purchases there, when previously the same shopping would have been done at Amazon.
Anderson – Moderator

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