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Pure-play dot-coms out-gunning high street rivals

Old-school retailers still haven't found the right way out of the high street and onto the web...
Written by Kate Hanaghan, Contributor

Old-school retailers still haven't found the right way out of the high street and onto the web...

The UK's pure-play e-tailers are trouncing their clicks and mortar rivals when it comes to online customer service, with Amazon leading the pack. Of the companies examined in a Which? survey, the e-tail operations of high street outfit Dixons fared particularly badly. Which? asked 4,000 readers for their opinions on a number of pure play and clicks and mortar e-tailers. Just 16 per cent of respondents said they were happy with Dixons' customer service. This compared unfavourably with Amazon, which notched-up 69 per cent satisfaction. In terms of delivery, Dixons also performed poorly, with just 45 per cent of people feeling satisfied with the service they received. Again, Amazon gained top ranking with 77 per cent. Kellie Evans, spokeswoman for the Dixons Group, admitted the company is disappointed with the findings. She said: "We're sorry and hope it hasn't put customers off. They can trust us to learn from our mistakes." The company said it has made a £17m investment to ensure the Dixon Group websites, which include Dixons, PC World and Currys, fit into the company's delivery and after-sales operations. Evans added: "We hope there would always be an improvement in service if there's an improvement to be made." However, things weren't looking good yesterday with the Dixons corporate site down, apparently unbeknown to the company. Another high street name to fare badly in the Which? survey was WHSmiths. It failed to impress customers with the range of products available on its site. Kate Kennedy, managing director of WHSmith Online, said: "These are disappointing results for WHSmith." She explained that WHSmiths Online aims to improve customer service by making the average time for delivery clearer and being more transparent about what products are available at any given time. She said: "I very much hope customers receive a better service over Christmas. We'll do everything we can to move away from the bottom of the table." However, Jaap Favier, analyst at Forrester Research, had a word of warning for the pure play dot-coms. He claimed that companies such as Amazon are hugely overspending on customer service in order to establish their brands. He added: "In the long term, they won't be able to sustain this."
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