Drape the Digital Bunting: Verizon's e-Commerce Grand Reopening Introduces Segmented Home Page, Easy Navigation

NEW YORK - Verizon didn't have to buy new mannequins or install Halogen lighting. But with some customer-focused design work, a high-tech makeover of the award-winning Verizon Web site is the cyber equivalent of a retail renovation.

The revamped verizon.com Web site launched today with a graphically cleaner, more efficient home page, divided into customer and utility segments for quick user access to the information and functions customers want.

"With more than 6 million registered users, 3 million visits per day and more than 1 million orders placed online last year, verizon.com has been an astounding success in its first two years," said Judy Verses, senior vice president of marketing. "But e-commerce is an evolving medium, and we've changed the site to better satisfy our customers when they do business with us online.

"User studies showed our customers would benefit from a streamlined experience that would make doing business with us easier and quicker," Verses said. "In e-commerce, as in a convenience store or boutique, shoppers want to quickly find what they're looking for, make the transaction, and move on. The new site facilitates that in an online framework."

To address that objective, Verizon has divided the home page into clearly marked segments: Home, Business, Wireless, My Account, Customer Support and About Verizon; also, a special Online Phone Book section with various number services, and an additional column highlighting offers and special features.

"The Special Offers column, located on the far right-hand side, provides details about the latest in offers and service introductions, and the What's New section of that column has new tools and tidbits," Verses explained. "The new Exclusively for You section of the column takes visitors to parts of the site where special interest items, like our learning center, reside."

The simplicity built into the site now eliminates duplicate links to the same pages and helps define destinations so back-clicking is unnecessary. By segmenting the Verizon business units -- including Verizon Wireless and Verizon Super Pages.com -- on the home page, the site supports a logical, integrated shopping experience. And in many cases, the number of clicks from the home page to a product purchase function has been reduced.

"The world is high-speed now, not only in time management but on the Internet with the growing impact of broadband access," Verses said. "In the early days, a pretty site that was a card catalog for cool information about the company was all you needed. Now things have reversed; the information has to be there, and it is, but online shopping and bill-paying are functions Web customers want and want efficiently."

Verizon launched the highly-interactive version of verizon.com in November 2001, and traffic and transactions on the site grew quickly. To build it, Verizon's Information Technology team spent nearly a year integrating and revising tens of thousands of Web pages, hundreds of functions and millions of lines of code from Web services of merger partners GTE and Bell Atlantic.

Today more than 6 million customers are registered to use features of the site, including product ordering, bill review and payment and other features. The site is versatile enough to allow customers to track orders, request repair service and track progress of their repair, and have live online chats with service reps.

Online bill-payments increased more than 100 percent last year, stimulated in part by Verizon's program to pre-register unregistered customers and list usernames and pass codes at the tops of bills, thus letting customers bypass the on-screen forms usually required.

Internet analyst Media Matrix cited verizon.com as the number-one site serving the telecommunications industry and number 16 across all industries. The site was a finalist in the 2003 Webby Business Awards competition sponsored by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.

Verizon Communications

A Fortune 10 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services, with approximately $68 billion in annual revenues. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. Verizon's international presence includes wireline and wireless communications operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.