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Spelling mistakes ‘costing online businesses millions’


Poor spelling is costing online businesses millions of pounds a year in lost revenues, an internet entrepreneur has warned.

The statement made by Charles Duncombe, director of the Just Say Please Group, which comprises a number of travel, mobile phone and clothing websites, told the BBC that an analysis of site figures revealed that a single spelling mistake could cut online sales in half.
In fact, he said that poor spelling was a serious problem for the online economy and the struggle to recruit enough staff who were up to the task meant that the sector was not efficient as it could be. "Often these cutting-edge companies depend upon old-fashioned skills," he said.
While Duncombe acknowledged that bemoaning the education system was "nothing new", he believed that having access to adequate levels of literacy was becoming increasingly important as more firms went online.
"This is because when you sell or communicate on the internet, 99% of the time it is done by the written word," he said. But websites had only about six seconds to capture consumers’ attention before they went elsewhere.
As a result, it was possible to measure the specific impact a given spelling mistake had on sales. For example, after correcting an error on the web site, revenue per visitor doubled.
"If you project this across the whole of internet retail, then millions of pounds worth of business is probably being lost each week to simple spelling mistakes," Duncombe warned.
But he was "shocked at the poor quality of written English" that he had come across when undertaking recruitment and felt that too many applications from school and university leavers contained spelling errors or poor grammar.
"Some people even used text-speak in their cover letter," Duncombe said. Others who appeared able to spell proved unable to once they were denied access to a computer-based spellchecker during a written test, he added.

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