Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Customer Satisfaction Study Predicts Merry Outlook for Some Top E-Retailers; Others Will Struggle in 2009

A study of customer satisfaction with top retail websites during the holiday season is shedding light on which online retailers will thrive in 2009 and which could have an uphill battle ahead. According to the annual report from ForeSee Results, Amazon and Netflix continue to delight holiday shoppers online while customer satisfaction with websites for Circuit City, Gap, Home Depot, HSN, Neiman Marcus, and Overstock fall below industry standards.

The annual Top 40 Online Retail Satisfaction Index from ForeSee Results and FGI Research uses the patented and predictive methodology of the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) to examine how successful the top 40 retail websites are at encouraging loyalty and purchase intent. All 40 websites are rated on a 100-point scale (a full list of scores is included at the end of this release). The study found that a highly satisfied online shopper is 73% more likely to purchase online, 38% more likely to purchase offline, 75% more likely to recommend than is a dissatisfied website shopper.

Highlights of the report include:

--The only two e-retailers scoring above 80 on the study’s 100–point scale (generally considered the threshold for excellence by the ACSI) are Amazon and Netflix, both at 84. QVC was a distant third at 79. Not surprisingly, Amazon just reported its best ever holiday season.

--Only 10 websites improved online shopper satisfaction since last holiday shopping season, and the most improved are (+5% to 78) and HP’s online store (+7% to 76). Other top gainers include Staples (+6% to 77) and (+4% to 75).

--Forty percent of the measured sites saw satisfaction decline year-over year. The largest declines were for Home Shopping Network (- 9% to 69) and Gap (-7% to 69).

--Retailers scoring 69 or lower are less successful at satisfying shoppers, which can erode loyalty while missing out on a tremendous opportunity to leverage the web channel to improve the bottom line. Six e-retailers scored 69 this year, and five of the six had lower scores in 2008 than in 2007.

--Prices are a key element of satisfaction for many individual websites, but overall, improvements to merchandise and functionality will have a greater return on investment.

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