Report: E-tail Prosperity Is in the Details

Detailed information and recommendations about products are the most important reasons that customers return to e-tail sites, according to a report released Monday by Jupiter Media Metrix (Nasdaq: JMXI).

In its report, “Back to Basics: Enhancing User Experience at Low Cost,” Jupiter said that 59 percent of those surveyed cited increased product information as a reason to return to an online retail site. Another 26 percent of consumers said product suggestions prompt them to return to an e-tailer.

The good news for Web companies, according to Jupiter, is that progress can be made toward meeting many consumer desires without massive investment in new technology.

“In the current business climate, it is more important than ever to give users the best possible experience,” Jupiter analyst Cormac Foster said. “Well-orchestrated surveys are likely to show companies that they can achieve a high level of user satisfaction by making only basic and inexpensive enhancements.”

By comparison, 12 percent of those surveyed cited mobile commerce capabilities as a reason they would return to a specific e-commerce site.

Cheap Fixes

Jupiter cautioned that Web site operators, especially those engaged in online retail, should survey their own customers to find out their needs.

“Every site’s users are different,” Foster said. “Retail sites especially might learn that they can address their user experience issues at a low cost without having to invest in new technologies.”

Speed Over Flash

Jupiter also said that faster, streamlined Web sites are more important for customer retention than flashy graphics or cutting-edge services like mobile e-commerce.

“To make the best use of their budgets in the near term, most companies should avoid risky, glamorous Web enhancements,” Foster said.

For retail sites, 26 percent of consumers cited faster-loading pages as a reason toreturn.

Speed King for Content

Speed is even more important for content sites, Jupiter said. About 40 percent of Web surfers looking for news and information say they are more likely to return to a site where pages load faster.

Other important considerations were the ability to customize layout, cited by 36 percent, and polling or chat capabilities, which was cited by 31 percent.

About 20 percent said they would be brought back by the addition of rich media to the page, and 15 percent by the ability to have news streamed to a wireless device such as a cell phone.

A Rising Media Stream

The Jupiter report comes as streaming media is being weighed both as the future face of online advertising and as an attention grabber for e-commerce sites.

In June, (Nasdaq: AMZN) announced it would begin using streaming clips of music, video and video games to hook customers.

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