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Online Retailers Must Adapt to Earn Customer Satisfaction, Survey Finds

  |  June 5, 2007   |  Comments

With consumer expectations rising rapidly, online retailers must give visitors more entry points to build loyalty.

Enhanced search, ratings/reviews, and the ability to zoom and spin product photos are among the features online retailers can add to make consumers more loyal. The "Top 100 Online Retail Satisfaction Index" published by ForeSee Results advises online retailers to implement Web 2.0 enhancements based on the needs of their individual sites.

"Think about satisfaction, it's a combination of what you get and what you expect," said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results. "Satisfaction is set by demand, promotion, and marketing; once a consumer hits a site, expectations are molded. Retailers need to understand the expectations of consumers continue to increase."

When consumers are satisfied with a particular online retailer, "satisfaction leads to loyalty and future purchase," according to the report.

Consumers look at more factors than price, according to the study. Offering the lowest price isn't always the best strategy; it increased overall satisfaction for only 5 percent of the top 100 online retail sites. "Site experience and brand, if improved, will have the biggest payback to retailers," said Freed. "On the opposite side we have price, generally the lowest of any other elements."

Customer satisfaction with online retailers drives not only loyalty, but positive word of mouth. Satisfied customers make recommendations to friends, family, and colleagues. The retailers earning the highest-likelihood to recommend scores were Netflix.com, QVC.com, and Amazon.com. QVC.com recently capitalized on its word-of-mouth recommendations by adding user reviews and ratings to its commerce site.

Retailers that don't allow consumer ratings and reviews, or editorial reviews, on their sites risk letting consumers go elsewhere for the information and transacting with another commerce site, according to Freed. "Those that get reviews are generally more satisfied and apt to purchase than those who did not," he said.

Reviews and ratings are known to aid a site's success, but retailers must be careful not to manage postings too closely. "Word of mouth and product reviews can go bad if they become over-run by marketing departments," Freed said.

The Top 100 Online Retail Satisfaction Index uses methodology of the American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), developed by the University of Michigan. ForeSee Results collected data from over 20,000 respondents who had visited the top 100 online retail sites within the previous two weeks, but had not necessarily made a purchase.

Online Retail Satisfaction Index, Spring 2007

Web SiteSatisfaction Spring 2007
Web SiteSatisfaction Spring 2007
1Netflix.com8548Domestications.com73
2QVC.com8549EddieBauer.com73
3Amazon.com8350LillianVernon.com73
4BN.com8251Nike.com73
5DrsFosterSmith.com8152Peapod.com73
6AmericanGirl.com7953REI.com73
7MarketDay.com7954Talbots.com73
8LLBean.com7955Chadwicks.com73
9HSN.com7956Nordstrom.com73
10TigerDirect.com7957AE.com72
11Zappos.com7958CVS.com72
12Apple.com7959FootLocker.com72
13Cabelas.com7860JCrew.com72
14MusiciansFriend.com7861LaneBryant.com72
15OrientalTrading.com7862Gap.com72
16Schwans.com7863Sears.com72
17Newegg.com7864Costco.com72
18Avon.com7865dELiAs.com71
19Dell.com7866FTD.com71
20Blockbuster.com7767OfficeMax.com71
21Shutterfly.com7768Palm.com71
22VictoriasSecret.com7769SmartBargains.com71
23Quixtar.com7770Spiegel.com71
24BassPro.com76711800Flowers.com71
25Crutchfield.com7672BestBuy.com71
26VistaPrint.com7673Buy.com71
27Drugstore.com7674CompUSA.com71
28JCPenney.com7675ToysRUs.com71
29Overstock.com7676Abercrombie.com70
30shopping.hp.com7677Bidz.com70
31Target.com7678BlueNile.com70
321800Contacts.com7579CDW.com70
33AAFES.com7580efollett.com70
34DisneyDirect.com7581eToys.com70
35eBags.com7582FreshDirect.com70
36HarryandDavid.com7583Lowes.com70
37Walgreens.com7584SaksFifthAvenue.com70
38Williams-Sonoma.com7585Shop.MLB.com70
39Staples.com7586Gateway.com70
40Walmart.com7587SonyStyle.com70
41ColdwaterCreek.com7488HomeDepot.com69
42NorthernTool.com7489ShopNBC.com69
43Scholastic.com7490NeimanMarcus.com69
44OfficeDepot.com7491Macys.com69
45CircuitCity.com7492Etronics.com68
46AbeBooks.com7393PCConnection.com67
47CrateandBarrel.com7394PCMall.com67
Note: Several retailers were added to the list after the survey was fielded, as their sales numbers were confirmed. In addition, there were several retailers that did not receive sufficient responses to calculate an accurate customer satisfaction score. Retailers that were left off the index due to insufficient responses were Auto Parts Train, ZipZoomfly.com, RealPlayer 10 Music Store, J&R Electronics, Tiffany & Co., and Restoration Hardware.
Source: ForeSee Results, 2007

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Enid Burns

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