E‑commerce Contact Ratings 2019

How do communication options on U.S. e‑commerce sites compare to what customers prefer?

Key Findings

98% of sites offer a telephone number

an average of 1.23 clicks from the home page.

When sites were ranked based on available options vs. customers’ preferences:

First: Belk.com

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.

Telephone number
98% 1.23 clicks
Email address
26% 1.4
Live web chat
73% 2.05
Web form
64% 2.44

Social

Facebook and Twitter links on the home pageFB & Twitter links on the home page
91%
Reply to public Twitter queries
80%
Have Twitter direct messages openHave Twitter DMs open
68%

Typical Message Response Times via Facebook Page

Typical Message Response Times via Facebook Page

Retailer Types

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

Class/Category TelephoneTele-
phone
Email Live Web Chat Web Form
Clicks & Mortar 1.01 1.38 1.94 2.20
Online Only 1.85 1.46 2.33 3.20
Fashion 0.65 0.93 1.81 1.96
General 2.92 3.50 2.83 4.00
Sports 0.75 1.00 1.50 1.75
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).

Telephone
51.7%
Email
46.2%
Live web chat
26.8%
Web form
27.2%
Facebook
8.3%
Twitter
4.6%

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

Preferences by Age

Who’s Listening?

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 Facebook Twitter Contact Rating
Telephone Email 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
6 DSW 0 0 2 n/a within minutes yes yes 131
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
11 Nordstrom 1 1 1 n/a instantly yes yes 125
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
18 Zulily 1 1 2 n/a instantly yes yes 122
19 Overstock 1 1 2 n/a within a few hours no yes 118
20 Fry's Electronics 1 1 n/a 2 n/a yes yes 114