Years after the dot-com boom and bust, many e-merchants are still groping for benchmarks by which to do business. But some key standards have clearly evolved, reports a study by the e-tailing group inc. In the fourth quarter of 2003, the researchers surveyed 100 Web sites, evaluating 150 functions and features. Certain tools were found in over 85% of Web sites, making them standards that no online merchant should be without, according to e-tailing group president Lauren Freedman: “As e-tailers conduct post-holiday site audits and plan 2004 enhancements, they should understand that the following metrics are now essential.” For example, during the order process, 98% provided a post-order e-mail confirmation; 95% sent a targeted e-mail after the order; 91% showed order shipping status; and 89% supplied an immediate order confirmation number in the shopping cart. Multichannel retailing tools included providing a free catalog (98%), store locator information (97%), and the option of requesting a catalog (90%).

— As reported in The O&F Weekly Update from the publishers of Operations & Fulfillment.