Up to January 2000 there were approximately 10 million Web sites, 25 million are foreseen by the end of the year 2000 and approximately 100 million for the following year . This explains why competition becomes stronger and stronger in the Web economy era. Visitors can easily switch their attention away from the Web site they are visiting, they feel free to purchase from any supplier no matter how far it can be, because the world is just a mouse click away. Visitors╦ choices depend upon features such as the Web site down load time, the ability to easily find the content and services they are looking for, and the trust in the site security and privacy.
The perceived quality of a Web site produces a measurable effect: in the USA in 1999 they estimated losses up to $ 4.4 million due to insufficient Web site quality (Zona Research).
There is a single, simple metric to measure the quality of a Web site. The conversion rate measures the number of visitors who come to a particular Web site within a particular period divided into the number of people who take action on that site, for instance to purchase any of the item on sale . As an average, conversion rates nowadays are in the 3 percent to 5 percent range. For e-commerce Web sites 10 percent conversion rate is considered excellent (i.e. one visitor buys out of 10 who just visit the site).
Merchants will increase their business by increasing the conversion rate. This is why merchants need visitors who are satisfied, remain loyal and therefore create traffic and favourable word-of-mouth.
Massimiliano Spolverini is Vice President and Chief Consulting Officer of Etnoteam S.p.A., a System Integrator and Consulting firm in the business of the Internet. An SEI authorized Assessor and ISO Quality Systems evaluator, he is currently involved in the research and application to the Internet technologies of the most accredited frameworks for project management, process and product quality improvement.