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Amazon has once again taken the top spot in a survey of customer satisfaction with online shopping, but several big names took some pretty impressive negative hits.

Analytics company ForeSee has released its annual report on how online retailers stack up during the holiday season when it comes to customer satisfaction. A total of 24,000 surveys were collected, and for the eighth year in a row Amazon came out on top, and for the second year in a row it set a record with a score of 88 out of a possible 100. “At this point, Amazon has been dominant for so long and has such a history of focusing on the customer, its hard to imagine anyone else coming close,” said ForeSee president and CEO Larry Freed. “Companies should emulate Amazon’s focus on the customer, which is clearly linked to superior revenues over the years.”

Meanwhile, while Amazon is tearing up the charts with its success, other companies didn’t fare as well. JC Penney, now headed by former Apple SVP of retail Ron Johnson, took a six point hit to land at the survey average of 78, while Dell fell four points to 77.

Why is Amazon doing so well? Variety. According to the results of the survey, this is actually a higher priority for consumers than price.

Merchandise is a top priority for two-thirds of retailers: Customer experience analytics can provide retailers with a clear direction on prioritizing improvements that will have the greatest return on investment. While many retailers are focused on price, only seven of the top 100 companies registered price as a high priority for improvement. However, 65 of the measured sites should improve merchandise (the appeal, variety, and availability of products) in order to increase overall satisfaction, and by extension, sales, loyalty and customer recommendations.

If that is indeed the case, it’s difficult to imagine who can catch up with Amazon at this point in time.

ForeSee Holiday Customer Satisfaction Study: Amazon Sets Standard; JCPenney, Apple, Dell Drop

Study Finds Customers Want More Merchandise Appeal and Variety from Most Retailers

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Dec. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire/ – Internet-retail giant Amazon remains at the head of the class, according to the annual Holiday E-Retail Satisfaction Index released today by customer experience analytics firm ForeSee. The eighth annual report—based on more than 24,000 customer surveys collected during the prime holiday shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas—expands from measuring satisfaction with 40 top retailers to 100 this year. Aggregate customer satisfaction stagnates, scoring 78 on a 100-point scale. Though satisfaction with top retailers remains the same, a few big-name retailers suffered declines. Apple’s online retail store slides four percent to 80, slipping from a tie for second place and out of the top five entirely, registering its lowest score in four years. PC competitor Dell.com also falls four percent to 77 and below the Index average. But the biggest year-over-year decline goes to JCPenney.com, with a six percent decline to 78.”This year, we’re seeing that even some of the largest companies in the country are at risk if they lose sight of customer satisfaction,” said Larry Freed, ForeSee president and CEO. “Satisfaction with the customer experience, when measured correctly, is the most important predictor of future success, and while Amazon clearly gets it, Apple stumbles from their usual focus on the customer experience. Dell, and JCPenney seem to be struggling to find their way, which could make them extremely vulnerable to competitors.”

Meanwhile, Amazon.com continues to set the standard for customer satisfaction, matching the record high of 88 it set last year in the holiday edition of the Index. Amazon has had the highest scores in the Index for eight years in a row, consistently setting a pace that other retailers don’t seem to be able to touch. Their high score is partially because of the appeal and variety of merchandise they offer, a priority area for some other retailers.

“At this point, Amazon has been dominant for so long and has such a history of focusing on the customer, its hard to imagine anyone else coming close,” added Freed. “Companies should emulate Amazon’s focus on the customer, which is clearly linked to superior revenues over the years.”

The range of scores among the top 100 retailers spans from Amazon’s high of 88 to a score of 72 shared by Gilt.com and Fingerhut.com.

The report includes individual satisfaction scores for 95 of the 100 top e-retailers (see chart below; sample sizes weren’t large enough to report scores for a handful of retailers). In addition to the previous points about individual company performance, other key findings include:

  • Merchandise is a top priority for two-thirds of retailers: Customer experience analytics can provide retailers with a clear direction on prioritizing improvements that will have the greatest return on investment. While many retailers are focused on price, only seven of the top 100 companies registered price as a high priority for improvement. However, 65 of the measured sites should improve merchandise (the appeal, variety, and availability of products) in order to increase overall satisfaction, and by extension, sales, loyalty and customer recommendations.
  • Customer satisfaction matters: Compared to shoppers who report being dissatisfied with a website, highly satisfied shoppers say they are 67% more likely to consider the company the next time they purchase a similar product. Satisfied shoppers also report being far more likely to return to the site, recommend it and stay loyal to the brand. Furthermore, analysis of top e-retailers in the United States has shown that, on average, a one-point change in website satisfaction was found to predict a 14% change in the log of revenues generated on the web.

The full table of scores is below. The full report can be downloaded for free at www.ForeSee.com.

Shopper Satisfaction with Top 100 Online Retailers in the U.S., Holiday 2012