Online Retailers Take Lead

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High customer satisfaction equals a higher likelihood to purchase and to recommend — not exactly rocket science.

But Web-only retailers continue to capitalize on this and outpace their brick-and-mortar multichannel counterparts in customer contentment, according to the annual Top 40 Online Retail Satisfaction Index, produced by ForeSee Results and FGI Research. For the second year in a row, online-only Netflix.com and Amazon.com topped the list this spring, with satisfaction scores of 85 and 83, respectively; the average satisfaction score for this year was 76. Scores are based on the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which uses a formula that isolates factors that most influence whether or not people are satisfied, and whether or not they are likely to become or remain customers.

The study also suggests that such factors as merchandise selection, brand and shopping experience are more important to online shoppers that price.

IT e-tailer Newegg.com tied for third with QVC.com with satisfaction scores of 82, while TigerDirect.com was the next-highest technology retailer, with a score of 78. Online computer stores Apple.com and Dell.com posted scores of 77 and 76, respectively, and Staples.com, with a 77, outscored OfficeDepot.com, which hit 75. BestBuy.com, CircuitCity.com, Sears.com, and Target.com all tied with scores of 73 each, while Walmart.com inched slightly ahead with a score of 74. Sonystyle.com ranked lowest among CE sites with a score of 69.

According to ForeSee, consumers who shopped sites within the top 10 percent of the index are 33 percent more likely to make a purchase than those at the bottom 10 percent; are 18 percent more likely to purchase from the same retailer the next time they buy similar merchandise, and are 16 percent more likely to recommend a top-ten percent site than one within the bottom 10 percent.

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