August 19, 2004, 12:00 AM

The leading sites in online customer experience, according to a new survey

Although scored the highest for value, it ranked low for customer experience in a Vividence study that gave its highest marks to merchants including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Circuit City, eBay and Lands’ End that emphasize ease of shopping.

Although scores the highest for value, it ranks low for customer experience in a Vividence study that gave highest marks to merchants, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Circuit City, eBay and Lands’ End, that emphasize ease of shopping.

The study, the Vividence Customer Experience Rankings for Online Retailers, surveyed 2,000 consumers in early July for their views of the shopping experience at 17 online retailers and three online marketplaces,, and

Among the top five in terms of overall customer experience, it ranked Amazon first, followed in order by Barnes and Noble, Circuit City, eBay and Lands’ End. Ranked in the bottom five were, in descending order, Froogle, Target, Nordstrom, J.C. Penney and Costco.

Vividence says the leading sites tend to stand out with special services, including one-click shopping and the checkout process at Amazon, same-day delivery and site search at Barnes and Noble, in-store pickup at Circuit City and the Virtual Model service at Lands’ End that lets shoppers preview how apparel outfits look on particular body shapes and sizes.

Amazon and eBay also perform well in the survey because they provide extensive information on products, Vividence says. Amazon, for example, provides detailed product specifications, lists of all products offered by product manufacturers, customer reviews, and lists of similar products, including those purchased by other consumers.

Nordstrom, though it ranked first among all sites for customer support, ranked 18th overall because of consumers’ perception of high prices, relative weakness in performance measurements related to ease of purchase process and product research.

Vividence says the most common frustration in online shopping, cited by 25% of respondents as among the 10 biggest problems, is being forced to register in order to make a purchase. Other problems and the percentage of respondents citing them as the 10 worst problems:
• Lack of ability to compare items with market research, 20%
• Inadequate or missing consumer ratings or reviews, 17%
• Difficulty in navigating category links to find particular items, 14%
• Inadequate expert ratings or reviews, 14%
• Too many site search results, 13%
• Lack of suggestions to improve site search, 13%
• Difficulty to compare items through site search, 13%
• Products not listed where expected, 13%
• Too few results in site search.

The 20 retail sites in the study by order of rank:
Barnes and Noble
Circuit City
Lands’ End
L.L. Bean
Yahoo Shopping
Eddie Bauer
Office Depot
Best Buy
J.C. Penney



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