Target and Toys R Us posted overall sales declines during the holidays.
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Studying purchase intent sheds light on key competitive situations by showing which web sites are able to garner high levels of future purchase intent from any channel.
- Amazon has a purchase intent score of 95 (the highest ever measured in this study); looking at key competitors, Barnes & Noble is at 87 and Overstock.com is at 75.
- Nike has a purchase intent score of 84; Foot Locker has an 80.
- Netflix has a score of 82.
- Apple (89) has higher score than either Dell (81) or HP (82).
In effort to hone in on the super-consumer, the Multichannel Value Index, or MCVI, was developed to show whether retailers are getting the maximum value from their web sites in a way that supports the multichannel sales process or whether money is being left on the table. By comparing its MCVI score to other high-volume online retailers, a multichannel retailer can determine how effectively the web site will help to drive overall sales compared to the competition. In this way, the MCVI is a valuable benchmark.
MCVI, like satisfaction and purchase intent, is shown on a 100-point scale. In essence, the MCVI is a correlation between two key metrics long reported on and examined by Internet Retailer for the Top 100: site visitors' online customer satisfaction and purchase intent.
Since customer satisfaction drives and predicts purchase intent, looking at both scores in relation to each other reveals how the web site is supporting a company's overall goals.
- If both the online satisfaction score and the purchase intent score are above average, it means the company is doing a good job leveraging the web site to increase sales across channels. All of the multichannel web sites with the highest satisfaction also have very high purchase intent scores.
- High online satisfaction with low or average purchase intent is an indication that an e-retailer is not quite meeting customers' needs in a way that translates to purchases, whether it's because of weak competitive positioning or not enough of a call to action on the site. E-retailers in this position need to determine which changes to which specific web site elements will increase purchase intent, a statistical process than can be accomplished through voice-of-customer feedback.
- 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 category are often those with a strong multichannel presence and brand, which drives sales more than the web site itself. Since satisfaction drives future 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 lower than average online satisfaction and lower than average 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.
The super-consumer holds a tremendous amount of influence in the retail world with a powerful voice, super hearing, unlimited knowledge and cloning abilities in this new dawn of shopping. Retailers don't have to—in fact, they shouldn't—look at the consumer as a villain that needs to be bested. Actually, the consumer is the misinterpreted superhero just looking to be understood.
Retailers will never be able to surpass the consumer's ever-changing expectations. But, if retailers monitor customer satisfaction and create increasingly positive consumer experiences, they should at least be able to keep pace with the super-consumer in this vast technological world we now live in. And that's a pretty good start.