E-Commerce Evaluation Reveals Errors

Many Internet users shop online to save time and money, but a collaborative study from the Business Internet Group of San Francisco (BIG-SF) and TeaLeaf Technology designed to evaluate the performance of leading e-commerce sites found that Web application failures caused consumers to lose time and e-tailers to lose money.

The report revealed undetected Web site errors on 10 of the 16 sites (62.5 percent) that were evaluated, resulting in an average of $278 in lost revenue per transaction. Consumers typically spent 7 minutes on these error-filled sites, hoping to navigate their way through the transaction.

“It continues to amaze me that although the Internet has clearly come of age as a sales channel, we continue to find revenue-draining Web failures on the very retail sites that are considered the Internet’s most celebrated success stories,” said Diane Smith, BIG-SF analyst.

Of the errors that were uncovered in the study, 12 percent were technical involving application and Web server problems, such as blank pages, file not found, and embedded content errors. Another 18 percent were attributed to user failure – something that prevents the user from completing the transaction, such as an inability to purchase after product comparison, or wrong shipping address selected. The largest portion – 35 percent – had incorrect data errors that involved programming, database and human mistakes.

The report’s e-commerce site selection was based on a Keynote index of the leading Web-based businesses, that rates and ranks performance and availability. The data used to create the index is taken from actual online retail transactions Keynote performs and is measured from 10 U.S. cities (Boston, San Francisco, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston and Dallas) on an hourly basis.

The 10 companies that make up the index include: Amazon, Best Buy, Eddie Bauer, JCPenney, Office Depot, Office Max, Sears, Staples, Target, and Wal-Mart, with Eddie Bauer leading the pack for the weeks of July 28, 2003, and August 4, 2003.

While Eddie Bauer ranked highest in performance, the site was not among the most popular shopping destinations for the week of August 3, 2003, according to Nielsen//NetRatings.

Top Shopping Destinations for the Week Ending
August 3, 2003 (U.S., at home)
Rank Brand or Channel Unique
1. eBay 14,881,000 17.19%
2. Amazon 8,795,000 10.16%
3. MSN Shopping 3,364,000 3.89%
4. Yahoo Shopping 3,006,000 3.47%
5. Expedia 2,752,000 3.18%
6. Dell 2,718,000 3.14%
7. Orbitz.com 2,371,000 2.74%
8. Wal-Mart Stores 2,204,000 2.55%
9. DealTime 2,146,000 2.48%
10. Travelocity 2,049,000 2.37%
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

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