December 27, 2012, 12:38 PM

Apple, Dell and J.C. Penney lose marks when it comes to customer satisfaction

Amazon continues to dominate ForeSee’s annual holiday index.

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Amazon.com Inc. earned top marks when it comes to satisfying holiday shoppers this year, while Apple Inc., Dell Inc. and J.C. Penney Co. Inc., each of which have been contenders in the past, all suffered significant drops, according to a study released today by ForeSee.

Amazon has held the title of most satisfying retailer every year since ForeSee launched its Holiday E-Retail Satisfaction Index eight years ago.

ForeSee measures customer satisfaction for the top 100 retailers in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide based on more than 24,000 online consumer surveys conducted between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

ForeSee says Amazon scored 88 points on its 100-point scale in the index. A score of 80 is considered “excellent” by ForeSee. Meanwhile, Apple dropped from a score of 83 to 80 and Dell from 80 to 77, while department store J.C. Penney fell furthest, from 83 to 78, ForeSee says.

There are big financial gains to be had by satisfying customers. Satisfied customers are 67% more likely than dissatisfied shoppers to purchase from the same retailer again, 71% more likely to purchase from that retailer online, 58% more likely to purchase from that retailer offline and 69% more likely to recommend the retailer, according to the survey results.

Amazon has been dominant for so long and has such a history of focusing on the customer, it’s hard to imagine anyone else coming close,” says Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee. “Companies should emulate Amazon’s focus on the customer, which is clearly linked to superior revenues over the years.”

Amazon’s strength, in part, comes from the variety of merchandise it offers, ForeSee says. 65% of retailers in the index could increase their satisfaction scores by improving the appeal, variety and availability of products they offer, the company says. 

Gilt Groupe and Fingerhut.com, now known as Bluestem Brands Inc., shared the lowest score in the index: 72. Both retailers scored low on all four elements ForeSee measured: price, merchandise, site functionality and content, Freed says. Though price was the worst factor for each, ForeSee recommends that Fingerhut will best increase its ratings by focusing first on improving merchandising and Gilt, by improving site functionality, he says. “Gilt should dig into what kinds of site functionality customers are struggling with—our survey did not go into that kind of depth, but it would be easy enough to find out what’s going on and will probably be a lot easier to fix than prices.”

The top four retailers in the index, with their scores in 2011 and 2012, are:

• Amazon, 88, 88;

• L.L. Bean Inc., 81, 85;

• QVC.com (owned by Liberty Interactive Corp.), 83, 84;

• Vitacost.com Inc., no measure in 2011, 84 this year.

Five of the top 100 retailers do not appear in the index this year because ForeSee lacked enough survey data to accurately report their scores, it says.

Amazon is No. 1 in the Top 500 Guide; Apple, No. 3; Dell, No. 5; J.C. Penney, No. 20; Gilt, No. 49; Bluestem Brands, No. 82; L.L. Bean, No. 18; Liberty Interactive, No. 7 and Vitacost, No. 86.

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