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Satisfaction with the top 100 e-retailers has made a spectacular recovery, rebounding from a dive this time last year to an all-time high score of 78 points out of 100, a five-point increase. ForeSee Results’ annual Top 100 Online Retail Satisfaction Index found that consumers are more satisfied with their online experiences than ever before, giving almost every individual retailer a score matching or exceeding earlier satisfaction levels.
The research, which uses a unique scientific methodology developed at the University of Michigan, is based on surveys of over 23,000 visitors to the top 100 e-retail Web sites by sales volume, as reported in the “2010 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.”
“The state of the economy really forced e-retail to step up their game,” noted study author Larry Freed, president and CEO of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based ForeSee Results. “Since so much of the financial downturn was out of their control, companies turned to those things they could improve, and now they are reaping the benefits. Customer satisfaction is not a byproduct of a healthy economy. Instead, a healthy economy is a consequence of satisfied customers.”
For the sixth consecutive year, Netflix came in first with a score of 87, a two-point rise from last year. Amazon, just a single point behind, also kept its second-place position for the sixth year in a row. Last year, only five Web sites scored higher than 80 (generally deemed the threshold for excellence in studies employing this methodology), but this year, 28 websites made the cut. No e-retailer studied scored under 70 (normally the cutoff for subpar performers) — an unprecedented event in the index’s six-year history. Several companies saw huge gains in scores, the most notable being MarketAmerica.com (12 to 75), Etronics.com (10 to 73) and Ambercrombie.com (+9 to 79).
Among the measured retail industries were books/CDs/DVDs, specialty (non-apparel), computers/electronics, food/drugs, mass merchant, apparel/accessories, hardware/home improvement, and housewares/home furnishings.
According to the annual Top 100 E-Retail Satisfaction Index, a highly satisfied online shopper is 73 percent more likely to buy online, 47 percent more likely to buy offline, 72 percent more likely to recommend, 53 percent more likely to return, and 67 percent more likely to purchase again than a dissatisfied shopper. The index further shows that a single-point increase in online customer satisfaction (as measured by the research) translates to about $89 million in increased sales for a top e-retailer.
“The impact of customer satisfaction on an e-retailer’s bottom line has never been clearer,” noted ForeSee Results VP of retail strategy Kevin Ertell. “This research proves that customer satisfaction is still the No. 1 driver of loyalty, positive word of mout, and future purchasing intent. Despite a serious dip in 2009, e-retail has jumped back in line with the other industries we measure, an indication for many that the economy is finally on the way back.”
The Top 100 Online Retail Satisfaction Index report is available free at www.ForeSeeResults.com.