E-tailers need to shape up their Web sites and improve navigation if they're going to retain customers, according to a recent survey by NetSmart.

According to consumers:

  • 90% of e-commerce Web sites are not intuitive
  • 83% leave e-commerce Web sites frustrated - and empty handed.

NetSmart asked respondents to critique e-commerce Web sites.

  • 87% were unable to navigate around most Web sites
  • 73% could not find the product they were looking to buy
  • 68% were frustrated by the number of clicks it took to find particular information
  • 54% got lost in e-commerce Web sites

The survey found that the most common mistakes that e-tailers make when designing Web sites are:

  • organizing inventory using jargon. For example, most e-tailers index "apparel" as opposed to "clothes."
  • crowding the home page with too many product advertisements.

Overall, NetSmart reasearchers concluded that many e-tailers do not recognize the differences between traditional retail and e-tail.

The research revealed that - on average - new Internet users need about three years to become comfortable with e-commerce transactions. 32% of new users surveyed said that security fears are the main reason they don't shop online, which is down from 91% in 1995. Intuitive navigation is a key factor in the success - or failure - of your Web site. If consumers visit your Web site and are frustrated by the navigation, they will leave. Most frustrated consumers won't return to a Web site that they've deemed tough to navigate, unless you make changes and let them know that you've improved navigation.

Our advice: assess the navigation of your Web site, and improve shortcomings now! As more and more consumers are shopping online - and exploring different e-tail options - it's a key opportunity to turn your Web site into a frequently browsed site - and to increase revenue.

Source: NetSmart

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