February 19, 2004, 12:00 AM

Online retailing leads the pack in customer satisfaction, says new report

With an American Customer Satisfaction Index of 84 on a scale of 100, e-retailing leads three other e-commerce industries. E-commerce scored an aggregate of 80.8; all American industries--online and offline--scored a satisfaction rating of 74.

Online retailing continues to lead all e-commerce industries in customer satisfaction, according to the latest rankings on the American Customer Satisfaction Index, reports ForeSee Results Inc. Customer satisfaction with the four categories of e-commerce that ForeSee measures--retailing, brokerages, travel and auctions--registered 80.8 on a scale of 100, up 4.1% from 77.6 a year ago. The national average for all companies in the American Customer Satisfaction Index is 74.

E-retail earns an aggregate 84, up 1 point. The auction category is the next highest-rated, at 78. Travel scored a 77 and brokerages 76.

“E-retail is clearly the standard-setter and the other categories don’t quite measure up,” says ForeSee Results CEO Larry Freed. “These ACSI scores provide strong insight on why e-retail revenues have been rising at such a healthy rate. The ACSI scores have a track record of predicting future behaviors-good shopping experiences create repeat business and measurable word of mouth-so we can expect the upward spending trajectory to continue.”

Measurements are produced through a scientific formula calculated on the basis of surveys of users of the products and services being measured. The ACSI is produced quarterly and covers a wide range of goods and services used by Americans. It is produced at the University of Michigan in partnership with the American Society for Quality and the CFI Group. ForeSee Results co-sponsors the e-commerce portion of the ACSI, as well as the annual e-business report included in the ACSI each August.

ForeSee reports that Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com are the stars of the e-retail category. Amazon.com scored 88; BarnesandNoble.com, 86. EBay also is strong, with an 84.

“Amazon’s score shows they are remarkably close to delivering customers’ ideal,” Freed says. “Maintaining strength while evolving the business model is even more impressive. The most important point is they have a very strong customer asset, do well by their customers, and have every opportunity to build profitability, loyalty, and satisfaction on that impressive base.”

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