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Top of the E-ClassTop of the E-Class

By Shirley Dawe and Wendy Evans with Marion Denney, Centre for the Study of Commercial Activity, Ryerson Polytechnic University, 2000

This study initially examined more than 200 e-tailers participating in 17 merchandise categories, operating from Canada, the U.S. and Europe, and was undertaken in the early part of 2000.

A set of 19 criteria were developed and relative points were assigned to each. All sites were evaluated and assigned points, with the rankings aggregated and summarized into four major areas - Marketing, Visual Merchandising and Navigation Ease, Assortment Offering and Pricing Strategy and Customer Service. This study did not undertake to assess service execution but rather focused on the 'front end' of the e-tail experience.

The initial research generated 170 ranked sites and identifies the ‘TOP 40’ along with key ‘front-end’ Best Practices in e-tailing.

The results of the analysis represent a consistent set of observations and provide a useful assessment tool for retailers in this channel.

Our ratings, undertaken by professional retail management consultants, are qualitative in nature and the development of the criteria and assignment of points, while subjective, do represent a consistent set of observations of over 200 sites. The research did not include focus groups, or consumer response, and covered the 'front-end' or initial consumer interface. Actual service delivery was not included or tested. Our intent is to provide instructive information and current best practices in this channel, both to existing e-tailers as well as to those intending to develop an online business.