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Many small UK firms who have made the jump online are failing their customers by providing an inadequate amount of information about purchasing and delivery.

New research from THUS suggests that while online retail is experiencing unprecedented growth, a large number of e-tailers are not doing it very well.

More than three-quarters of retailers trading over the internet do not provide customers with stock information on their web sites, the study shows.

A further 86 per cent of sites give no details as to the termination dates for purchasing or guarantees about having items delivered in time for Christmas.

Meanwhile, over half fail to offer a delivery guarantee, and another half of those evaluated in the study do not make customer service information easily available to their customers.

"All the convenience of shopping online is erased if customers aren't armed with the correct 'stock and drop' information," said Dan Cole, head of product management at THUS.

"This information should be obvious to anyone wanting to purchase online and details should be available on last ordering dates in order to guarantee delivery before Christmas day."

Some convenience remains, however.

According to the study, 96 per cent of e-retailers' websites allow customers to complete the entire payment procedure online.

Researchers conducting the study also agreed the three-quarters of the sites, while not perfect, are 'straightforward [and] quick'.

Copyright © 2005, Startups.co.uk

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