A study of customer satisfaction with the UK’s top 40 online retail websites during December has today unveiled that despite a dismal economic year and sagging online sales at the beginning of the fourth quarter, customer satisfaction scores for the top online retailers are up six percent on last year.
Every single retailer included in the study two years in a row has seen a year-on-year increase, if small. Across the board increases are unprecedented in the ten year history of ForeSee Results research.
Since satisfaction predicts revenue, it could be a merrier Christmas for top e-retailers than some are expecting! This is the third year that ForeSee Results, industry leaders in online customer satisfaction measurement, have measured customer satisfaction with the top online retailers in the UK, enabling valuable year-on-year comparison to see which retailers have improved and which have slipped over time.
The Index measured four high level factors that affect overall customer satisfaction: Functionality, Price, Merchandise and Content. Over 10,000 survey responses were collected from shoppers who had visited the top 40 e-retail websites in the UK in November and December.
“Online UK retailers should bask in the warmth of this development and enjoy some good news in a season of mostly bad news…but not for very long,” said Larry Freed, CEO of ForeSee results.
“While these numbers are certainly a huge step in the right direction, companies who saw improvements run the risk of being lulled into a false sense of security. There is still a long way to go with the UK’s numbers still trailing the US by 10 percent.
“Additionally there is only one site out of 40 with a satisfaction score over 80, Amazon - essentially an American company with a strong UK presence. It concerns me that there are still 15 companies scoring 60 or lower which means they are risking sales and market share to better performing companies.”
Retailer Satisfaction Ratings
• Aggregate customer satisfaction - a sharp increase this Christmas (71 on the study’s 100-point scale, up four points and an incredible six percent from last year’s aggregate score of 67). This increase is made all the more notable by the fact that it occurred during a global recession.
• Range of satisfaction: Scores for e-retailers span a wide 18-point range, from a high of 83 to a low of 65. However, not a single retailer registers a decline in satisfaction since 2008.
• The Leaders: The clear winner this year (as it was in 2007 and in 2008) is Amazon’s UK site with 83 points – up five on last year’s score. It is the only website in the UK which scored above an 80, generally considered the threshold of excellence in studies using this methodology. o In second place is Play.com (79 – up one point) closely followed by QVC.com in third place with 78 – up eight points on last year.
• The Laggards: 15 of the 40 measured UK e-retailers registered scores of 69 or lower, generally considered to be bottom performers who are risking erosion of market share and sales if improvements are not made.
Ticketmaster UK and B&Q had the lowest scores in the Index (at 65) – a position B&Q also had last year. Dixons, Currys, Freemans, and Littlewoods did only slight better but still fall to the back of the pack. (all at 66).
• The Most Improved: Every single website in the Index that was measured in both 2008 and 2009 registered satisfaction increases year-on-year but the most notable increases were: Debenhams (up 10 points and 16 percent to 71) M&M Direct (up nine points and 13 percent to 76) John Lewis (up nine points and 13 percent to 77) The Orange Shop (up eight points and 13 percent to 68) WH Smith (up eight points and 13 percent to 70)
• Factors: Of all the specific website elements measured in the study (price, merchandise, content and web functionality) this is the first time in the three-year history of the UK Index, that Price is the top priority element for 20 of the 40 e-retailers measured in this study. Merchandise is a top priority for 15, and Web Functionality is a top priority for eight. Content - the accuracy, quality and freshness of information on the website - was not listed as a top priority.
• Satisfaction by product type: Mass merchants - retailers that sell a wide array of products, came top with 73 - up four points and six percent closely followed by apparel and/or accessories websites with 72 points – up an impressive six points and nine percent. Computer/Electronics retailers come last with an aggregate score of 69, up five points and eight percent since last year.
• Internet pure plays (Internet only retailers) outperform multichannel (those with stores, catalogues or other non-web channels) retailers again. Pure Plays score 74, up three points and four percent on last year. Multichannel retailers are up five points and eight percent to 70, still trailing the pure plays by four points.
• UK Vs US: With an aggregate score of 79, American websites are considerably outperforming U.K. websites (by nine points and 10 percent). If American sites are that much more satisfying and international shipping issues become more and more irrelevant, the pressure on UK sites will increase.
Kevin Ertell, Vice President of Retail Strategy at ForeSee Results added: “The more e-commerce savvy UK consumers become, the more they will expect and demand of their online experience.
“Getting customer satisfaction right is critical and those who do it well will enjoy a positive impact on their bottom line. The online channel continues to be one of the few success stories in the retail economy, meaning that retail websites are more essential and capable than ever before.”
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