Canadian Study Finds E-Shoppers Less Loyal

Encouraging online shopping leads to declining loyalty, fewer referrals and lower profits as users negotiate Web sites that “would give Kafka pause,” according to a report conducted by a Canadian research firm.

A report today in the Toronto Globe & Mail newspaper said the findings run contrary to the generally accepted view that online retailing will boost overall business.

The study by consultancy Bristol Group of St. John’s, Newfoundland, said many Web sites are unfriendly and are driven by technology rather than connectivity to the user.

“Too many Web sites are navigational nightmares — labyrinths that would give Kafka pause,” the report quoted the study as declaring. “They are designed to showcase the technology, the eye candy that neither considers the purpose of the customer in visiting the site nor adds any value to the browsing experience.”

What About Brand Loyalty?

However, the newspaper said that Michael Szego, a retail consultant with Toronto’s J.C. Williams Group Ltd., pointed to a national retail study which recently found that Web shoppers were more brand loyal than offliners.

But, the newspaper said the Bristol report indicates e-retailers trying to cash in on brand recognition to build their business may see their efforts backfire.

The newspaper quotes Jason Sniderman, vice-president of Toronto-based Sam the Record Man as saying, “It’s so easy to switch from site to site when you’re online, as opposed to schlepping from store to store.”

He also said e-retailers are learning more about how to serve online customer expectations. “It doesn’t matter who has an e-commerce site, everyone has to go through this whole learning process of how you actually do maintain customer loyalty.”

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