That standard has become less of a differentiator over time, though. That’s because the average score of the top 100 retailers stands at 78 (unchanged from last year), while for the top 40 retailers it’s a point higher, at 79.
Apple Store Barely Makes the Cut
While the overall e-retail customer satisfaction index remained stagnant at 79, certain retailers saw significant changes in their individual scores. HSN.com and Sony Store, Online counted as the most improved, each up 5 points, to 81 and 79, respectively. LLBean.com and Gap.com also improved, each by 4 points, to 85 and 77, respectively.
JCPenney.com, though, saw a marked decline, falling 5 points to 78, below the threshold of excellence. Also dropping were Store.Apple.com (down 3 points to 80), Dell.com (down 3 points to 77), TigerDirect.com (down 3 points to 76) and AutoPartsWarehouse.com (down 3 points to 75). So while iPads may have been on numerous wish lists, buying them online from Apple may not have been quite as satisfactory an experience as it was last year, although the retailer did meet the threshold of excellence.
Highly Satisfied Customers More Likely to Exhibit Brand Loyalty
The index scores tracked by ForeSee prove important because customers have a strong inclination to exhibit loyalty to retailers that provide them with a very satisfactory experience, according to other results from the study. Compared to shoppers dissatisfied with an online retail website (with satisfaction scores of 69 or lower), shoppers who are highly satisfied (giving scores of 80 or higher) are:
- 65% more likely to be committed to the brand (89% vs. 54%);
- 71% more likely to purchase from the retailer online (89% vs. 52%) and 56% more likely to purchase from the retailer offline (76% vs. 48%);
- 67% more likely to purchase from the retailer the next time they buy similar items (90% vs. 54%);
- 69% more likely to recommend the company (92% vs. 54%);
- 61% more likely to display satisfaction with the company overall (92% vs. 57%); and
- 61% more likely to return to the website (92% vs. 57%).
Aside from the gaps apparent in the above figures, the high percentages associated with the very satisfied shoppers are notable. For example, the importance of providing an excellent online shopping experience is brought into context when considering that 9 in 10 highly satisfied shoppers will recommend the company and return to their website.
Merchandise More of a Priority Than Price
The report also details the 4 elements of a website that impact customer satisfaction: price; merchandise; website functionality; and content. Interestingly, of the 100 sites studied, just 7 named price (perceptions of the fairness and competitive of an online retailer’s prices) as their top priority for improvement. Instead, the majority (65) said their top priority was merchandise, being the appeal, variety and availability of products on the website.
- Among mass merchants, QVC.com (84) came in second in customer satisfaction, behind Amazon.
- Newegg.com topped the list for computers and electronics retailers, with a score of 81. Apple’s site, which led the category last year, tied for second with HPShopping.com.
- LLBean.com easily topped the apparel & accessories category with a score of 85, ahead of 4 other retailers with a score of 80.
- Web-only retailers saw their overall satisfaction score drop from 80 to 78.
About the Data: The 2012 US Holiday Edition of the ForeSee E-Retail Satisfaction Index is the eighth annual evaluation of holiday shopper satisfaction with the top retail websites by sales volume, as reported by Internet Retailer in its annual Top 500 Guide.
The ForeSee E-Retail Satisfaction Indices are based upon a methodology founded in academia and proven to be a predictor of future financial success at both the macro- and micro- economic level.
This study utilized a nationwide panel of consumer households who have agreed to participate in opt-in surveys. More than 24,000 survey responses were collected from November 22, 2012 through December 13, 2012 from shoppers who had visited the top 100 retail websites within the previous two weeks.
Some respondents went on to complete an online purchase, while others did not, so the respondent group is defined as “website browsers.” Browsers include existing customers, first-time visitors, infrequent visitors, competitors’ customers who may be cross-shopping, and others spending time researching purchases on a retail website, perhaps with the intent to purchase through offline channels. They may shop on a variety of websites and other channels before making a purchase. Knowing why a browser does or doesn’t purchase during the visit is one of the keys to understanding multi-channel impact as well as the degree to which even these top e-retailers are fulfilling their potential.