• December 27, 2006
  • By Colin Beasty, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

Retailers Are Becoming More E-Savvy

Online shoppers are more satisfied this holiday season than last, according to ForeSee Result's second annual holiday edition of the Top 40 Online Retail Satisfaction Index. The leaders in delivering top-notch online shopping experiences maintained their top positions from last year. To grade companies, ForeSee Results uses the University of Michigan's ACSI methodology, which includes site users' likelihood of using a site again or recommending it to other users, to determine rankings based on a 100-point scale. Netflix leads the Index yet again, increasing 2.4 percent to a score of 86, followed closely by Amazon, also up 2.4 percent to an 84. Netflix continues to excel in site experience, merchandise, and brand and price. In third place was LLBean, tied with QVC. Apple, Old Navy, Quixtar, HPShopping.com, Newegg, and BN.com rounded out the top 10. Overall, the top eight retailers all improved or stayed the same in terms of customer satisfaction from last year. Not only were customer satisfaction scores impressive, but maintaining or improving already impressive scores from the previous year in the Internet environment is remarkable, says Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results. "Customers' standards for e-commerce sites continue to rise as the industry matures, and online companies have struggled to keep up with industry leaders and high customer expectations," Freed says. "The environment in stores remains relatively the same over a few years, but online, it's changing constantly." Freed attributes this fast-paced setting to constantly improving content, shopping features, such as spinning merchandise and other 360-degree view features, new multimedia capabilities, and increased online inventories. Of the sites that were measured during the holiday season in both 2005 and 2006, 24 recorded higher customer satisfaction scores this year than last, with only seven sites seeing declining scores from 2005. "Companies are starting to get it," Freed says. "They're understanding the importance of linking the Web to the overall shopping experience." The biggest improvements came from Sears, JC Penney, Old Navy, Sony, Target, and HPShopping.com, all of which experienced significant increases in site experience, price, merchandise, and brand image. "The fact many of these retailers are multi-channel stores that are primarily focused on the traditional brick and mortar establishments is interesting," Freed says. "If these traditional multi-channel retailers can keep focused on the customer and continue to achieve these types of improvements, with the advantage of alternative channel options, they will be very tough competitors for the more Internet focused, pure play online retailers." Related articles: Retail Is Alive and Thinking
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