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Customer service is the X-factor in online retail: study

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‘Exceptional’ customer service was the key factor in making an ecommerce website a top-performer this Christmas according to a new study.

The latest eRetail Benchmark results found that customer service made a key difference between those retailers who performed the best in the run-up to Christmas, when snowy weather affected deliveries across the UK.

The study, from eDigitalResearch, rated online lingerie retailer Figleaves top of its league table for telephone and email customer contact that kept shoppers satisfied over the festive season.

It also found that while most retailers were keeping online customer satisfaction high, many suffered from poor customer service scores.

Derek Eccleston, research director at eDigitalResearch, said: “This year, retailers faced unprecedented obstacles as snow affected online deliveries and operations in the run up to Christmas. What sets apart those that performed well in our study is their customer service, and our results emphasise the importance of not only having an engaging and functional website, but also established backend systems and procedures.”

The study found that only four of the 51 sites it benchmarked scored 100% for on-time deliveries in the run-up to Christmas. That compares to 38 retailers who did so in the autumn.

Retailers were most likely to score well for their use of keyword search and navigation, the highest-performing online sections of the study. One in four retailers now incorporate search engine and predictive text and technology into their sites, the study found.

Eccleston said: “As we witness the emergence of MEcommerce where consumers are now firmly in control, it is essential that retailers become customer centric, ensuring the entire end-to-end journey is seamless and provides everything a customer now expects.”

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