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Millions of sales lost due to spelling mistakes

by Hugo Jobling on 14 July 2011, 13:27

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Spelling it out

Online retailers are said to be losing 'millions' of sales due to spelling mistakes. The BBC reports that a survey of a online sales by entrepreneur Charles Duncombe revealed that single spelling mistakes can reduces sales significantly.

The research found that potential customers are turned off by errors in spelling and grammar on websites, as they lose faith in the credibility of the retailer.  In one instance, fixing one spelling mistake saw sales double. Although not all products will be as negatively impacted by bad spelling, it's nonetheless a telling sign of the impact simple, easily avoided errors can have.

The issue, it seems to be agreed is the growing acceptance of poor spelling and grammar in social circles, the results of which leak into business. While via SMS or on Facebook and Twitter bad spelling is unlikely to have a hugely negative effect, on a business site the impact can be huge.

Duncombe says that the problem is the growing number of employees with poor spelling.  "I know that industry bemoaning the education system is nothing new but it is becoming more and more of a problem with more companies going online. This is because when you sell or communicate on the Internet 99 per cent of the time it is done by the written word."

The CBI has a similar opinion. James Fothergill, the CBI's head of education and skills, said: "Our recent research shows that 42% of employers are not satisfied with the basic reading and writing skills of school and college leavers and almost half have had to invest in remedial training to get their staff's skills up-to-scratch. This situation is a real concern and the government must make the improvement of basic literacy and numeracy skills of all school and college leavers a top priority."

Whether the Government can or will do anything to reverse the growing problem of poor spelling remains to be seen. The problem certainly won't disappear overnight, though.

HEXUS Forums :: 24 Comments

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as they lose faith on the credibility of the retailer.
Shouldn't that be ‘in’? ;)
personally I prefer better descriptions:

Shouldn't that be ‘in’? ;)

Delicious irony :D
The issue, it seems to be agreed is the growing acceptance of poor spelling and grammar in social circles, the results of which leak into business.

Similarly, this sentence needs another comma after “it seems to be agreed”. That'll be 10p, please! ;)

And the research is absolutely right: I simply won't buy from a website that can't even get basic spelling and grammar right.

The worst example of this I've seen recently wasn't even online - I went to an event at MediaCity last weekend and the display boards explaining the BBC's move to Salford had "it's" in a possessive sense. Twice. On huge display boards intended to be read the public. At the BBC's new flagship headquarters. I was staggered.
Spelling and grammar seems to be more a matter of effort and practice than education.

Personally, I disregard cosmetic errors in language. The most important factor for me, is that the pertinent details are accurate.