NEW YORK — Apparel and accessories e-tailers Landsend.com, Ashford.com, Wal-mart.com and Hsn.com took four of the top 10 spots in the fifth annual Mystery Shopping Study conducted by Chicago-based researchers, the e-tailing group.

The study of 100 online merchants in 15 categories, conducted during holiday 2002, eliminated sites for not having a variety of 10 capabilities. The criteria, in declining order of importance, was: the ability to make a purchase on the first try; the offer of a toll-free number; the provision of an accurate and personalized answer to an e-mail query within 24 hours; the delivery of goods within five days; the ability to complete a purchase in five or fewer minutes on a DSL line; six clicks or fewer to checkout; the provision of inventory stock status in a shopping cart or product page; online shipping status conveyed; order confirmation given in shopping cart, and order confirmation e-mailed, along with order number.

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