Customer satisfaction with e-retail remains at an all-time high with 78 on a 100-point scale, according to ForeSee Results' Top 100 E-Retail Report.
Almost a third of the rated e-retailers scored 80 or higher, a significant increase from 2007 when only four Web sites were named top performers. Amazon topped the list with 86 percent satisfaction. Netflix and Avon trailed with 85 and 84 percent, respectively. The biggest gainers from 2010 to 2011 were Newegg, Shutterfly, Staples, Peapod, Lowes, Macys.com, and Hayneedle, with an increase of three points each.
"We've seen this trend over the past few years so the fact that we were able to maintain this level is a very positive thing," says Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results.
The report quantifies the cause-and-effect relationship between customer satisfaction and the retailer's success, something that Freed labels as the "best metric of success." Compared to dissatisfied consumers, highly satisfied visitors to retail Web sites reported they were 68 percent more likely to purchase online and 91 percent more likely to purchase from that retailer when shopping for a similar product in the future.
"Customer satisfaction is absolutely going to drive customer loyalty, Freed states. "The value is incredible in terms of creating loyalty in today's world of the Internet with all of the choices consumers have."
Freed advises retailers to listen to customers and understand their individual needs. "Be really cautious about connecting," he advises. "Unfortunately, there isn't a big brush we can use for everyone, it depends on the retailer and its strategy."
The report also showed big-box retailers pushing smaller retailers out of the marketplace. "A lot of retailers still struggle with prioritizing the online customer experience," Freed says. "I hope and expect to see similar results in the future. If I had to place a bet on it, I would think there would be at least a one- to two-point increase sometimes at the expense of less mature Web sites."
The annual report uses methodology from the American Customer Satisfaction Index developed by the University of Michigan. This year's results were based on surveys of more than 20,000 visitors to the top 100 e-retail Web sites, including vendors of apparel and accessories, automotive parts, books, office supplies, computers and electronics, health and beauty supplies, food and drug, and music. The full report, including a full set of historical scores over time, can be downloaded at www.ForeSeeResults.com.