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Direct Marketing Association

E-tailers losing millions by failing to respond to customers’ online requests

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By The Drum Team, Editorial

January 26, 2012 | 2 min read

UK’s e-retailers are losing ‘millions of pounds’ in sales by failing to respond to customers’ online requests for product and service information, research carried out for the Direct Marketing Association’s Response Management Council has found.

The survey of 217 companies trading in 10 different retail sectors found that one in 10 companies do not respond to consumer enquiries, despite having a contact form on their website.

It was found that a large number of e-retailers also lose out on potential sales because they lack adequate systems to deal effectively with customer enquiries, with the average response time to a customer’s online request for a brochure 5.4 days, up from 3.6 days in 2009.

Despite the fact that 37 million UK consumers now shop online, only half of the companies surveyed offer an online or downloadable version of their brochure; while just one in three send an email acknowledging a request; and only 5% actively offer to email a brochure.

Jo Varey, chair of the DMA’s Response Management Council, said: “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 research also discovered that most companies lack the personal touch when replying to customer enquiries, with just 45% personalising their communications when following up requests for information.

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