The customer satisfaction gap between online retailing and brick and mortar continues to widen. According to the latest results from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), released jointly by the University of Michigan and Foresee Results, satisfaction with the online retail channel increased 2.5 points versus last year’s study, reaching 83 out of a possible 100. Offline retail, on the other hand, scored 74.2 on the same scale.
While recent research has highlighted a growing dissatisfaction with sales associates at brick and mortar locations, the intuitive features and rich media of most Web 2.0 e-commerce environment is clearly meeting the needs of the majority of shoppers. “The web is meeting the needs and demands of today’s consumer,” says Larry Freed, President & CEO of ForeSee Results. “Online customer satisfactions are so high that only superior, innovative companies will be able to survive and excel in such a competitive landscape.”
According to the Report, the e-commerce sector, which has been measured by the ACSI every fourth quarter for the last eight years, is comprised of the following three industries: e-retail, online brokerage, and online travel companies.
• The e-retail industry overall holds steady with a score of 83. Perennial leader Amazon is up one point to a stellar score of 88. New to the category are Newegg (87) and Netflix (84). Ebay (81) and Overstock (80) bring up the rear but still post incredibly strong satisfaction scores.
• The online brokerage category moves up one point to 79, buoyed by strong increases by Fidelity (84), Charles Schwab (82) and TD Ameritrade (80). E*Trade comes in well behind the others with a score of 73.
• The online travel industry falls one point to 75, driven by decreases by three of the four measured companies: Expedia (75), Orbitz (73) and Travelocity (73). Only Priceline sees its score increase, by one point to 73.
Amazon crowns the list of top online retailers with a score of 88, the highest score of any retailers, online or offline, and the second highest scoring company of all the 200+ companies measured by the ACSI (Heinz is the only higher scoring company, with a score of 90).
Right behind is eBay, with a score of 81. More important than the actual score is position in comparison to other retailers. eBay is fairly stagnant, rising only 1.3% since its first measurement in 2003. Amazon has increased 4.8% in the same time.
First time companies measured by the ACSI are Newegg and Netflix. Newegg is an internet pure play company that sells computer hardware, software, and consumer electronics, and has a very high debut score that can be attributed to its focus on customer service, and to that fact that it’s gone above and beyond to own the space and particular audience of every techno-savvy, educated do-it-yourselfers. “The fact that it closed out 2007 with sales just shy of $2 billion (an increase of more than 26%) is a sign that its strategy is working,” says Freed.
With a score of 84, Netflix benefitted from being the first to successfully implement a unique business model. In 2007, its subscriber base increased 18%, revenue increased 21% and net income increased 36% despite competition like Blockbuster.com.