June 2, 2005, 12:00 AM

Satisfaction Index

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The Top 40 Index data shows there is often a significant gap between browsers’ likelihood to purchase online and their likelihood to purchase through an offline channel. Many multi-channel retailers do substantially better in one channel or the other and very few have mastered both. This demonstrates that most retailers have a long way to go before they have mastered the multi-channel approach and presents a major opportunity for retailers to make significant strides in meeting the needs and exceeding the expectations of the multi-channel shoppers.

When comparing the various categories of retailers the range of the scores is relatively small. The Book, Toys and Hobbies categories leads the way with a strong satisfaction score of 81 supported by the highest future behavior scores of any category. The rest of the categories are close in scores with the Mass Merchants trailing the pack. It is not a total surprise that Mass Merchants is the lowest performing category. The value added to the consumer of all products under one “roof” (or browser) has far less value online than it does offline. The cost in terms of time and convenience to a consumer to switch to another retailer is far greater offline than online.

The pure-play edge

When comparing the types of retailers (pure-play online retailers, multi-channel retailers and manufacturer-direct retailers) we again see very close scores with the pure-play retailers edging out the rest.

However, it is important to keep in mind that browsers are not only influenced by the site experience itself. They are also influenced by things like price, merchandise selection, and other factors-all of which determine the ultimate level of satisfaction and likelihood to purchase. How the mix of satisfaction elements affects browsers is unique to each company’s web site and must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Retailers who compete with the Top 40 measured web sites can get valuable glimpse into the strengths and weaknesses of the market share leaders in their categories. The Top 40 Online Satisfaction Retail Index identifies stand-out performers that can serve as models for improving online performance and as benchmarks for achieving high levels of customer satisfaction. By measuring customer satisfaction among both browsers and customers on their own web sites, among browsers as well as customers, online retailers can fully leverage the marketing resources expended to drive traffic to their web sites.

Larry Freed is president and CEO of ForeSee Results. He can be reached at 734-205-2555

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