Online Retailers Must Adapt to Earn Customer Satisfaction, Survey Finds

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 Site Satisfaction Spring 2007 Web Site Satisfaction Spring 2007
1 Netflix.com 85 48 Domestications.com 73
2 QVC.com 85 49 EddieBauer.com 73
3 Amazon.com 83 50 LillianVernon.com 73
4 BN.com 82 51 Nike.com 73
5 DrsFosterSmith.com 81 52 Peapod.com 73
6 AmericanGirl.com 79 53 REI.com 73
7 MarketDay.com 79 54 Talbots.com 73
8 LLBean.com 79 55 Chadwicks.com 73
9 HSN.com 79 56 Nordstrom.com 73
10 TigerDirect.com 79 57 AE.com 72
11 Zappos.com 79 58 CVS.com 72
12 Apple.com 79 59 FootLocker.com 72
13 Cabelas.com 78 60 JCrew.com 72
14 MusiciansFriend.com 78 61 LaneBryant.com 72
15 OrientalTrading.com 78 62 Gap.com 72
16 Schwans.com 78 63 Sears.com 72
17 Newegg.com 78 64 Costco.com 72
18 Avon.com 78 65 dELiAs.com 71
19 Dell.com 78 66 FTD.com 71
20 Blockbuster.com 77 67 OfficeMax.com 71
21 Shutterfly.com 77 68 Palm.com 71
22 VictoriasSecret.com 77 69 SmartBargains.com 71
23 Quixtar.com 77 70 Spiegel.com 71
24 BassPro.com 76 71 1800Flowers.com 71
25 Crutchfield.com 76 72 BestBuy.com 71
26 VistaPrint.com 76 73 Buy.com 71
27 Drugstore.com 76 74 CompUSA.com 71
28 JCPenney.com 76 75 ToysRUs.com 71
29 Overstock.com 76 76 Abercrombie.com 70
30 shopping.hp.com 76 77 Bidz.com 70
31 Target.com 76 78 BlueNile.com 70
32 1800Contacts.com 75 79 CDW.com 70
33 AAFES.com 75 80 efollett.com 70
34 DisneyDirect.com 75 81 eToys.com 70
35 eBags.com 75 82 FreshDirect.com 70
36 HarryandDavid.com 75 83 Lowes.com 70
37 Walgreens.com 75 84 SaksFifthAvenue.com 70
38 Williams-Sonoma.com 75 85 Shop.MLB.com 70
39 Staples.com 75 86 Gateway.com 70
40 Walmart.com 75 87 SonyStyle.com 70
41 ColdwaterCreek.com 74 88 HomeDepot.com 69
42 NorthernTool.com 74 89 ShopNBC.com 69
43 Scholastic.com 74 90 NeimanMarcus.com 69
44 OfficeDepot.com 74 91 Macys.com 69
45 CircuitCity.com 74 92 Etronics.com 68
46 AbeBooks.com 73 93 PCConnection.com 67
47 CrateandBarrel.com 73 94 PCMall.com 67
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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