ated varied across all categories. For these Web sites, the highest score was obtained for the agreement phase and the final section, but it was scored less than one by the participants. Thus, most participants were not satisfied with these sites in general. These observations were confirmed by the subsequent qualitative analyses conducted by the authors, as dis- cussed below.
First, from the qualitative analysis, it was found that Colesonline, as the best-practice, has a pleasant user interface with information about various aspects (for example items on spe- cials, clearance aisle, information and support, payment and pricing policy) organized in a logical way. Furthermore, the use of hypermedia to describe products is consistent and ap- propriate. In addition, the site enables consumers to make use of their experience in shopping at the physical supermarket by organizing products by aisles. Therefore, most assessors gave a relatively high rating for most of the criteria in the information phase of Colesonline. Groceries4U, on the other hand, contains too much information on its main page, not all of which is needed by consumers before they start to shop online. Moreover, the arrangement of the information on the site is inconsistent and confusing. Besides, many pictures that describe the products are not available. Furthermore, the use of flashing images to indicate new items can be irritating to some consumers. All this further explains why most of the assessors were unsatisfied with Groceries4U in the information phase.
For the settlement phase, the subsequent qualitative analysis discovered that the ordering procedure actually highlights the strength of Colesonline. The Web site provides consumers with a very clear procedure. The ‘Buy’ button is located next to each item and the ‘Shopping Basket’ is always apparent to consumers, so that they can fill in or modify the quantity of each product as required in case of a change of mind during the process. This provides additional explanation why Colesonline received the highest rating for the settlement phase. At the other extreme, the analysis discovered that Groceries4U’s unclear ordering procedure particularly frustrates consumers. One way to put items in the shopping basket is to enter the quantity ones
wishes to buy from the list of products and then click the ‘Buy’ button. This button, however, may not be apparent to consumers if the list is long, since it is located far at the bottom of the list. Likewise, the ‘Shopping Basket’ is not readily viewable to consumers, since they need to click on the ‘Go to Shopping Cart’ button that is also located at the bottom of the list of prod- ucts. Finally, in this way of selecting products, the shopping trolley is not updated instantly, which is likely to confuse the consumers. This suggests that Groceries4U needs to undertake major improvements in the agreement phase.
In the settlement phase, the results of the assessment demonstrate that Colesonline is no longer in the lead. The qualitative analysis discovered that all Web sites actually allow custom- ers to pay using mobile EFTPOS and online payment with credit cards or customer account. AussieShopper also allows customers to pay with cash or check upon delivery. Besides, unlike other Web sites, it enables customers to track and trace their orders by providing the driver’s contact number. This explains why AussieShopper was rated favorably for the ‘integration of generic service’ and ‘tracking and tracing’ criteria in this phase compared to other Web sites. However, the analysis could explain why Colesonline received the lowest rating for the ‘track- ing and tracing’ criterion.
For the after-sales phase, the qualitative analysis revealed that while other Web sites simply provide the company contact details for customer inquiries, Colesonline offers a ‘Customer Care Center.’ This is intended to help customers with any queries regarding Colesonline, offering the best technical and nontechnical assistance possible through a trained staff. A contact number and the operating hours of the Customer Care Center are provided. This increases consumers’ confi- dence in the accessibility and performance of customer support provided by Colesonline. There- fore, Colesonline was rated high in the after-sale phase. Groceries4U was rated lowest in this phase. The possible explanation emerging from the subsequent analysis was that Groceries4U has various contact persons and numbers to deal with general enquiries, customer service, and technical assistance and provides no information on their availability. This may reduce the con- sumers’ confidence in terms of the accessibility and performance of the customer support, which does not seem to be well integrated. Other Web sites have a stable performance in this phase as they provide reasonable customer support details.
For the final section, Colesonline once again received the highest rating. Many of the issues discussed in the information and agreement phases are related to the last phase. The analysis also discovered that the performance of Colesonline and Shopfast in this section is very comparable, and therefore some assessors may favor Colesonline while some prefer Shopfast. Due to its pro- vision of the Customer Care Center and the fact that it is operated by one of the largest retail chains in Australia, Colesonline was rated very high for the ‘trustworthiness of the Web site’ criterion. In addition, Colesonline offers a personal shopping list to consumers and therefore received the highest rating for the personalization function.
Figure 10.4 compares the assessment figures with the perceived user expectations for both the best-practice and sector profiles. The ideal situation is achieved when all the categories lie on or above the diagonal, as shown on the figure. Consistent with the above findings, the figure depicts that for Colesonline, three phases—the agreement phase, after-sales phase, and final section—lie exactly on the diagonal and are within the ‘maintain strategy’ zone. This indicates that these three categories have a good performance, as the users’ expectations meet the actual assessment. Two other items—the information and settlement phases—are below the diagonal but still within the ‘maintain strategy’ zone. A further analysis indicates that Colesonline particularly has a high performance for accessibility of the Web site and products (scored at 1.73), quality of the content (1.26), models and method of pricing (1.16), access to customer support (1.16), availability of the