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E-tailers are being warned not to get carried away by the hype surrounding e-commerce and instead focus on keeping customers happy. New media research firm, Jupiter Communications, is worried that while much of the talk among e-tailers is how to increase their market share, many are simply forgetting to look after their Web sites or their customers. According to Jupiter things are getting worse. Fewer people were satisfied with their online shopping experiences this year compared to last, the research firm claims. Problems with the availability of merchandise, excessive shipping and handling charges, and sluggish Web site performance were just some of the bugbears voiced by consumers. It appears that unless e-tailers start to take customer satisfaction seriously they cannot hope to build up any form of loyalty among consumers. The combination of retailers launching or relaunchng their sites in time for Christmas, coupled with the massive increases in Web traffic reported over the last quarter, may explain some of the apparent dissatisfaction. But according to analyst Nicole Vanderbilt, the time for excuses is over. "Companies spent considerable dollars to acquire the customers that visited their sites, " she said. "If they do not shift their efforts to alleviate technology issues and improve customer service in the coming months, they risk losing the customers they spent so much to acquire." ®

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