Ann Arbor, Mich. Netflix and Amazon delighted holiday shoppers online while Web sites for Circuit City, Gap, Home Depot, HSN, Neiman Marcus fell below industry standards in terms of customer satisfaction, according to the annual Top 40 Online Retail Satisfaction Index from ForeSee Results and FGI Research.
The survey uses the patented 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 Web sites are rated on a 100-point scale. It found that a highly satisfied online shopper is 73% more likely to purchase online, 38% more likely to purchase offline, and 75% more likely to recommend than a dissatisfied Web site shopper.
“In a recession, knowing that improving customer satisfaction with your Web site can engender that kind of loyalty, and purchase intent is like money in the bank,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO, ForeSee Results. “But too many e-retailers are ignoring this crucial metric, and it shows in the results of our study. Only two of the 40 measured e-tailers scored above 80, and more than a quarter scored 70 or below. Nearly 40% saw satisfaction drop year-over-year. That’s just not playing to win in this economy.”
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.
“Amazon is setting the bar for online-retail satisfaction and sales, and I expect they will have better financial results than the rest,” added Freed.
The survey found that while prices are a key element of satisfaction for many individual Web sites, overall, improvements to merchandise and functionality will have a greater return on investment.
“Consumers were expecting big discounts this season, and price was a pretty important factor, but it’s not the be-all, end-all for satisfaction, even in a recession” said Freed. “It’s much smarter for the long term to improve satisfaction through Web-experience improvements than erode brand equity through price cuts. The travails of Detroit’s Big Three automakers illustrate that point profoundly.”