Virtual shops ‘suffer from poor design’

Badly designed “virtual shops” are partly to blame for the poor uptake of shopping on the Internet in the UK, according to new research.

Electronic sales account for just 0.7 per cent of retail spending by UK customers, and is only forecast to reach 1 per cent by 2001, Verdict Research’s report shows.

“Poor site design is a common problem with a tendency to replicate the appearance of store design with excessive graphics and formatting,” reads the report.

UK retailers should look to the US for good site design, says Verdict retail consultant Clive Vaughan: “There are very few visual cues [on the Internet] so it’s much more difficult to navigate around any website.”

Internet shopping may best be exploited by those electronic retailers which do not also operate stores, the report concludes. Webworks’ site for virtual book store The Book Place has recently gone live. Traditional book retailers, such as Dillons, act as suppliers to the client company Book Data.

Webworks account director Peter Collingwood agrees that US Web design is often superior. “They have the budgets and the attitude. Enough people are on the Internet in the US to make it worth doing the job properly.”

The Team has created a corporate identity for electronic publisher Netica and its divisions including AutoNetica, which promotes car sales on the Internet, and SkiNetica, which publishes information of ski resorts and ski hire. Netica floated in July and is in a strategic partnership with Microsoft MSN.

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