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E-retailers losing ‘millions in sales’ by ignoring online customer enquiries, report finds

26 Jan 2012 10:35 GMT Back
E-retailers losing ‘millions in sales’ by ignoring online customer enquiries, report finds
DMA News

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The UK’s e-retailers are losing ‘millions of pounds’ in sales by failing to respond to customers’ online requests for product and service information, new research has revealed.

The findings of a survey of 217 companies trading in 10 different retail sectors, conducted on behalf of the Direct Marketing Association’s Response Management Council, show that one in 10 companies do not respond to consumer enquiries - despite providing contact forms on their websites.

The research also indicates that a large number of e-retailers are also losing out on potential sales because they lack adequate systems to deal effectively with customer enquiries. 

The average company response time to a customer’s online request for a brochure is now 5.4 days – up 1.8 days from 3.6 days in 2009. Only half of the companies surveyed offer an online or downloadable version of their brochure; just one in three send an email acknowledging a request; and a mere five per cent actively offer to email a brochure.

The majority of companies surveyed also lack the personal touch when replying to customer enquiries, with just 45 per cent personalising their communications when following up requests for information. 

In spite of the overall economic downturn, e-commerce has quickly risen to become a dominant force in retail. According to recent figures published by the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), 37 million UK consumers now shop online.   

Jo Varey, chair of the DMA’s Response Management Council, says the findings should trouble retailers that are struggling in the face of a downturn in consumer confidence:

“Plenty of research shows the likelihood of a company converting a consumer enquiry into a sale declines the longer they take to reply. In an age of instant communication, why are companies taking more than five days to respond to someone interested in making a purchase? It makes no commercial sense as to why so many companies erect barriers to consumers interested in finding out more about their products. It makes even less sense why 10 per cent of companies fail to even respond to enquiries.  

“Companies are rightly spending money on marketing their products and services, but it appears that many are failing to invest properly in the means to convert online interest into sales. This is a false economy: British retailers are undoubtedly losing millions of pounds in sales as a result. This should be worrying for any brand with an eye on the bottom line in these tough trading times.”

The DMA’s 2012 Response Management Survey, which names and shames the most slovenly brands to be surveyed and analyses overall brand response management performance in the UK, can be accessed here.
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