UK websites lead the way

The study assessed the 200 most-visited consumer websites in 13 European countries taking into account ease of navigation, registration, ordering, customer service and privacy.

The survey revealed online-only retailers had the most user-friendly sites, followed by the e-commerce sites of conventional retailers that also had an online channel.

Of all the e-commerce sites, companies that sold books and music were found to be the easiest to use, followed by travel sites. Leisure related sites, such as those for football clubs, were the most difficult to use.

UK sites were rated relatively favourably, but French and German sites scored the highest in terms of good design, while Swedish sites were the least well received.

But in contrast to other European countries, UK bricks and mortar retailer websites are more user-friendly than online-only sites, the study found.

Neil Yeomans, consumer business partner at Deloitte & Touche, said: ‘UK retailers have led the way for Europe in translating their brands into quality commerce websites.

‘Pure online e-tailers are struggling to compete with the resources, experience of consumer behaviour and established brands of traditional retailers.’

Trust UK, which runs a website integrity mark scheme supported by the government to reassure online shoppers their transactions are safe, agreed that established High Street retailers offer better customer service.

‘High Street stores have established policies and have simply migrated them to a new channel. Start-ups don’t have that backing,’ said Robert Dirskovski, board secretary for Trust UK.

Internet-only bookseller Amazon is an exception. ‘As an early starter, Amazon has had a leg-up against its competitors with the time to build a strong brand,’ said Yeomans.

‘Equally crucial has been the strategy of the management, tailoring the site for different markets and exercising careful due diligence before expanding products or services,’ he added.

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