May 29, 2009, 12:00 AM

Satisfying Customers

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 E-retailers with low or average satisfaction but high purchase intent are leaving money on the table in terms of growth. E-retailers in this position are often those with a strong multichannel presence and brand, which is what drives sales more than the web site itself. Since satisfaction drives purchase intent, loyalty, and a host of other behaviors with a direct impact on the bottom line, e-retailers in this category would be well served to undertake a serious evaluation of how to make the web site contribute more tangibly to sales, both offline and online.

 E-retailers with low online satisfaction and low purchase intent should sit up and take notice. In this kind of competitive environment, no one can afford to be in this position for very long.

Category overview

L.L. Bean and Victoria’s Secret led the Apparel & Accessories category with customer satisfaction scores of 78. Newcomers to the Top 100 Blair.com (Orchard Brands Corp.) and Urban Outfitters came in at 74 and 67, respectively. The highest-scoring Apparel & Accessories Internet pure play was Zappos.com, at 76.

Newegg.com came out on top, with 81, in Computers & Electronics, but the category had a few notable decreases. Apple.com fell five points to 75 and Etronics’ satisfaction score plummeted from 71 to 63.

Internet pure play Drugstore.com held its own against other Food/Drugs competitors, with a satisfaction score of 77. Retail chain CVS dropped six points to 71. WeightWatchers.com has a satisfaction score of 75, which is notably higher than competitor NutriSystem.com’s score of 68. Both are new to the Top 100 this year.

As online retail revenue continues to grow at a slower rate due to the recession, companies must monitor and manage the expectations and needs of their customers as they evolve the e-retail experience. Web sites that aggressively strive to meet the expectations and needs of their online audience will leap ahead, positioning themselves for success as the economy improves while competitors languish.

Larry Freed is president and CEO, ForeSee Results Inc.

How the survey was conducted
The Top 100 Online Retail Satisfaction Index measures browser satisfaction with the top 100 online retailers by 2008 sales volume as reported in the 2009 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. Satisfaction data was collected through FGI Research’s SmartPanel, a nationwide group of 1.6 million consumer households that have agreed to participate in opt-in surveys, and analyzed using the methodology of the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). During February 2009, ForeSee Results collected data from 22,815 respondents who had visited the top 100 online retail sites within the previous two weeks whether or not they made a purchase.

The ACSI is a leading economic indicator and a cross-industry benchmark of customer satisfaction for seven economic sectors, more than 43 industries, and nearly 200 major companies in the United States, measuring approximately 45% of the U.S. gross domestic product. Applied to the web, the ACSI methodology goes beyond accurately assessing current satisfaction to predicting how improving online customer satisfaction will foster future behaviors tied to loyalty, such as purchases.

About ForeSee Results
ForeSee Results is a provider of online customer satisfaction measurement using the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index methodology.

About FGI Research
FGI Research provides market research and information solutions to improve the speed, accuracy, and impact of business decisions by combining research methods, online samples, and advanced analytics and communications.

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