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A new report has looked into the performance of the top 28 UK retailers as measured by traffic, and has found much room for improvement.

The research, carried out by Marketing Assistance Ltd on behalf of Blast Radius, looked at the whole online shopping experience, from from first visit to returning unwanted items.

The top 10 online retailers named by the report are:

1. Amazon UK
2. Dell EMEA
3. Apple Computer UK
4. Next
5. Comet
6. Tesco/ QVC UK
7. Currys/ Littlewoods
8. ASOS
9. John Lewis
10. Hewlett–Packard/ Marks and Spencer

Blast Radius' Chief Creative Officer Lee Feldman believes the results reveal a key difference between the mindest of retailer and customer:

"The study results show that investment by online retailers tends to focus on what they care about most, securing the sale. This attention is at odds with what the customers focus on, what happens after they have made a purchase. "

“This 'service disconnect' is critical and reveals a short sighted view of the customer based on immediate revenue collection where real value is gained from long–term relationships."

The report identified several key areas where online retailers need to improve:

  • Delivery - Scheduling deliveries at convenient times for customers is a major challenge for etailers, which some failed completely.

For instance, Marketing Assistance’s mystery shoppers failed to have items delivered by B&Q and HMV after several attempts.

  • Returns - Many etailers returns policies fell short of what is acceptable – Apple charged an outrageous £30 ‘transportation charge’ for returning goods, while many of the top ten in the list failed to clearly display their returns policies.
  • Branding - The best used the delivery process as an opportunity to brand a successful purchase and to encourage further transactions. These included Amazon, Dell and Apple. Others negated their brand presence by sending their products in anonymous packaging. Lastminute.com and Comet were examples of this.

UK etailers need to improve, says Feldman:

"What is worrying too is that the top three brands in the survey are US–owned, with the UK's flagship retailer, Tesco, coming in only sixth and with B&Q and HMV's performance being particularly lamentable. Clearly UK plc has to try harder."

Graham Charlton

Published 23 November, 2006 by Graham Charlton

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

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