E-tailers triumph over multichannel competitors

Online only stores beat bricks and mortar rivals in new customer satisfaction survey from ForeSee Results

Online-only retailers yet again did a better job of satisfying customers than their multichannel competitors during December, according to the latest study of the UK's top 40 online retail sites by market research consultancy ForeSee Results released today.

The Online Retail Customer Satisfaction Index collected responses from 10,000 shoppers who'd visited the top 40 sites in November and December and measured four factors affecting overall customer satisfaction: functionality, price, merchandise and content.

It found that although customer satisfaction levels rose across the board, up six per cent to 71 on the study's 100-point scale, scores ranged widely, from a high of 83 to a low of 65.

Amazon was the clear winner, with Play.com and QVC.com in second and third respectively, however, more worryingly, 15 of the 40 scored 69 or lower and could see erosion of market share and sales if improvements are not made, said ForeSee.

Pure play online retailers once again trumped their multichannel competitors, scoring an average 74 points as opposed to 70, although American sites in general are outperforming their UK equivalents by ten per cent, showing improvements still have to be made.

Larry Freed, chief executive of ForeSee Results, warned online retailers that as UK shoppers become more e-commerce savvy, their expectations will rise.

"Satisfaction is a combination of what you expect plus what you actually get, and as expectations go up, satisfaction can go down for e-retailers who do not make

expected improvements," he argued.

"To keep customer satisfaction high, retailers need to get inside the minds of site browsers and assess their satisfaction. This provides a critical perspective on how to maximise the contribution of the website to drive overall sales, customer satisfaction and loyalty both during the Christmas season and throughout the year."

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