Online Consumers Getting More Savvy

Online shoppers are becoming more sophisticated and more savvy, according to results of the BizRate.com Consumer Fulfillment Index (CFI).

The index represents data collected from consumer surveys gathered at the point of purchase from June 1997 to January 1999. The index compares a customer’s expectations against the actual service they receive and evaluates responses in terms of five pre-sale and five post-sale attributes, including ease of ordering, Web site navigation and appearance, and on-time delivery.

“The trending we’re seeing is of an e-commerce marketplace that is maturing,” said Farhad Mohit, CEO of BizRate.com. “Merchant performance used to surpass customer expectations, but that difference is diminishing as customer expectations rise.”

The data has revealed that, on average, first-time buyers were more pleased with their online purchases than experienced buyers. These findings indicate that as more people continue to shop online, their expectations of online vendors rise.

Further examination of the data has shown that satisfaction levels from the overall base of online customers have declined during the past year for both first-time and experienced online shoppers. On average, females have been more pleased with their online experience than males, though both males and females showed a drop in their CFI scores from January of 1998.

“What’s important to remember is that even among first-time buyers, satisfaction levels are declining,” Mohit said. “As e-commerce moves forward, it will become increasingly important for online merchants to replicate the convenience, selection, and experience of shopping at traditional brick and mortar stores to keep the customers they’ve earned.”

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