Survey Reveals the Good, the Bad, the Crashey

By Evan Schuman Print this article Print

A survey of 20,000 consumers offers good news For Amazon, QVC, Netflix, bad news For Macy's, BestBuy, PCMall and Saks Fifth Avenue.

A survey of 20,000 consumers offers good news for Amazon, QVC and Netflix and not so good news for Macy's, BestBuy, PCMall and Saks Fifth Avenue.

The survey, done for years by consulting firm ForeSee Results, takes the top 100 revenue-grossing Web sites and applied the methodology of the University of Michigan’s ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index). ACSI scores have a 100-point scale, with the scores closest to 100 being the best.

The latest results show an unusually wide gap between the best- and worst-performing sites, in terms of customer service. The top five sites were Netflix (85 score, unchanged from a year ago); QVC (85 score, an improvement from last year's 82); Amazon (83, unchanged); Barnes & Noble (82, an increase from last year's 78); and DrsFosterSmith (81 – that site hadn't been looked at the prior year).

The weakest five sites were Neiman Marcus (a 69, a drop from the 76 it earned last year. That's the largest change—up or down—of any site in the survey); Macy's (69, unchanged from last year); Etronics (68, was not examined last year); PCConnection (67, was not examined last year); and PCMall (67, was not examined last year).

ForeSee CEO Larry Freed said he was taken aback by some of the weaker numbers.

"The two lowest scorers trail the two highest scorers by more than 20 percent, a remarkable gap given the relatively mature world of online retail," he said. "It is surprising that any of the top 100 retailers could get away with scores in the 60s and maintain any kind of market dominance for very long."

Some other notable changes includes L.L. Bean (still very high at 79, but a drop from the 80 last year), Newegg (78, but less than last year's 82), Drugstore (a respectable 76, but below last year's 78), Shopping.HP (76, an increase from last year's 74), Target (76, higher than last year's 73), Williams-Sonoma (75, a drop from last year's 79), Staples (75, a decrease from last year's 77), OfficeDepot (74, a drop from last year's 75), CircuitCity (74, an increase from last year's 73), Chadwicks (73, a steep drop from last year's 78), Nordstrom's (73, a drop from last year's 77), BestBuy (71, a drop from last year's 73) and 1-800-Flowers (71, a plunge from last year's 76).

Although price comparisons are a big part of today's e-commerce environment, Free said price actually has had—and likely will have—surprisingly little impact on customer satisfaction scores.

"Not surprisingly, satisfaction with price—at 73—was the lowest of any of the drivers of satisfaction that we measured. But improving price would not have a significant impact on satisfaction for 95 percent of the sites we measured," Free said. "Instead, for the top 100 retailers as a group, improvements to brand and the site experience would be far more influential on increasing satisfaction and likelihood to purchase. Although price is important to consumers, our research consistently shows that improving satisfaction with price is not the most strategic method of improving overall satisfaction, loyalty and financial performance."

Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at Evan_Schuman@ziffdavis.com.

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This article was originally published on 2007-06-01
Evan Schuman is the editor of CIOInsight.com's Retail industry center. He has covered retail technology issues since 1988 for Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, IDG, Penton, Lebhar-Friedman, VNU, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0 and United Press International, among others. He can be reached by e-mail at Evan.Schuman@ziffdavisenterprise.com.
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