What Sites Offer
We researched 100 top U.S. e-commerce sites1 to determine the most commonly offered communication channels, the average number of clicks to access them from the home page, and brands’ use of social media options.
Live web chat
Facebook and Twitter links on the home pageFB & Twitter links on the home page
Reply to public Twitter queries
Have Twitter direct messages openHave Twitter DMs open
Typical Message Response Times via Facebook Page
So-called “clicks and mortar” retailers (with both e-commerce and physical stores) make contact information more readily available, averaging 1.01 clicks to get to a telephone number versus 1.85 for online-only sites. Looking at retail categories, there are some striking differences: fashion sites require only 0.65 clicks for a telephone number, while general retailers require almost 3.
Average Clicks to Available Communication Options
|Live Web Chat||Web Form|
|Clicks & Mortar||1.01||1.38||1.94||2.20|
|Tech & Electronics||1.33||2.00||2.18||2.60|
What Consumers Want
We asked more than 2,000 U.S. residents2 which types of communication they would use if they encountered a problem while shopping online (multiple selections were allowed).
Live web chat
Email is notably popular despite only 26% of the sites we researched offering an email address. There are no major preference variations by gender or region, but the age breakdown shows clear patterns: in higher age ranges, social media usage declines and telephone grows in popularity.
Preferences by Age
By combining the e-commerce research and consumer survey, we devised a points system3 to rank the sites, scoring each communication option then assigning weight based on survey percentages. It is important to note that this is not assessing the quality of customer service, merely to what extent the sites readily offer the options users prefer.
|Rank||Site||Clicks to Reach||Contact Rating|
|Telephone||Live Web Chat||Web Form||Response Time||DMs Open||Public Replies|
|1||Belk||0||1||2||1||within a few hours||no||yes||147|
|2||Lulus||1||1||1||1||within a few hours||no||yes||145|
|3||Land's End||0||2||1||2||within minutes||no||no||142|
|4||Revolve||0||1||2||4||within a day||no||no||136|
|5||Sierra Trading Post||1||1||2||2||n/a||yes||yes||136|
|7||Fossil||0||0||n/a||2||within a day||yes||yes||129|
|8||J.Crew||0||0||2||n/a||within a day||yes||yes||129|
|9||Bodybuilding.com||0||1||1||n/a||within a day||yes||yes||127|
|10||Uncommon Goods||0||1||1||n/a||within a few hours||yes||no||126|
|12||Zappos||0||1||2||n/a||within a few hours||yes||yes||125|
|13||6 PM||0||1||1||n/a||within a day||no||yes||125|
|14||West Elm||0||1||n/a||2||within a day||yes||yes||125|
|15||Ifixit||2||3||2||2||within a day||no||yes||124|
|16||Victoria's Secret||0||2||1||n/a||within a few hours||yes||yes||123|
|17||Net-A-Porter||1||1||1||n/a||within a few hours||yes||yes||123|
|19||Overstock||1||1||2||n/a||within a few hours||no||yes||118|