December 30, 2002, 12:00 AM

For next year, shoppers wish for better browsing and ordering, study says

Although more than half of online shoppers said they were highly satisfied this holiday season, e-retailers earned only a C grade, says a study by ForeSee Results. The study suggests how e-retailers can significantly raise shopper satisfaction levels.

 

Although more than half of online shoppers said they were highly satisfied with their shopping experience this holiday season, e-retailers earned only a C grade for customer satisfaction, calling attention to a need for better browsing and ordering functions, says a study by ForeSee Results. The grade, equal to 69 on a scale of 100, is 8 points lower than the results of a comparable study last year.

The study also found that 10% of online holiday shoppers this year were extremely dissatisfied with their web-buying experience. Of that 10%, two-thirds said they would not shop online for next year’s holiday shopping season. No particular aspects of online shopping contributed to the dissatisfaction among these shoppers, ForeSee said.

But the study’s findings, which also indicate the level of importance shoppers place on particular aspects of online shopping, show where e-retailers can make improvements that will most likely increase shopper satisfaction levels and lead to increases in sales, ForeSee CEO Larry Freed tells InternetRetailer.com. “Users who are highly satisfied are twice as likely to buy again in two months and next holiday season,” he says. He adds that satisfied shoppers are also twice as likely to recommend online shopping to others.

The study indicates that, by continuing to improve product browsing and the ordering process, e-retailers stand to noticeably improve shopper satisfaction levels. For example, Freed notes that shoppers have complained that online orders are too often followed by inadequate order confirmation notices. “Shoppers will reward e-retailers significantly if they improve the ordering process,” he says.

He adds that the better retail web sites become at functions like browsing and ordering, the higher the expectations of shoppers. “If shoppers have a great experience online, that’s good, but then their expectations rise,” Freed says.

Ironically, the study’s respondents gave the highest scores to the same areas that ForeSee cites as the areas where further improvement will bring e-retailers the highest payback. Respondents gave the highest marks to the ordering process (73), site look and feel (73) and product browsing (72); they gave the lowest scores to the product returns process (63) and privacy (67).

The study, which covered this year’s shopping season up to the week before Christmas, also found that 59% of online shoppers were highly satisfied and that 71% said they plan to do their holiday shopping online next year. It also found that 69% of online shoppers were likely to recommend online shopping to others, and 63% were likely to shop online again within the first two months of 2003.

Among the holiday shoppers who were highly satisfied this year, 80% said they were likely to shop online again within 2 months, compared to only 40% among dissatisfied shoppers; 88% said they would shop online for next year’s holiday season, compared to 48% among dissatisfied shoppers; and 90% said they would recommend online shopping to others, compared to 40% among dissatisfied shoppers.

The study also found that improving customer satisfaction by just 3% will increase the likelihood that shoppers will shop again online within two months by 1.9% and increase the likelihood that shoppers will recommend the experience to others by 2.4%.

 

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