Following a bumpy relationship during the recession, online consumers seem much happier with e-tailers, according to a new study from ForeSee Results.
Satisfaction levels with the top 100 Web-based retailers rose five points this year from 2009, scoring 78 overall out of 100, according to ForeSee's annual survey. The 78-point mark achieved this year was the highest in the index's six-year history.
Among the 100 e-tailers, Netflix came in first with a score of 87--two points higher than last year. Amazon took home second place for the sixth year in a row, with 86 points. Avon.com and Apple tied for No. 3, with 83 points each. (Apple's score was eight points higher than last year.) And Barnes & Noble tied for No. 5 at 82 points with Keurig.com, LLBean.com, QVC.com, and Vitacost.com.
Virtually every retail company pegged in the survey saw its satisfaction marks remain the same or increase over last year's results. No company scored lower than 70 on the scale, while 26 retailers scored 80 or higher.
The 100 retailers included in the study spread across a variety of industries and product lines, including books, CDs, and DVDs; computer and electronics; food, drugs, clothing; and housewares.
Among computer and electronics vendors, Apple took the top spot and was one of the index's most improved companies, said ForeSee. In second place was TigerDirect with a score of 81. Rounding out the top five were BestBuy.com, Dell.com, and NewEgg.com, all of which scored a grade of 80 out of 100.
"The state of the economy really forced e-retail to step up their game," Larry Freed, CEO of ForeSee, said in a statement. "Since so much of the financial downturn was out of their control, companies turned to those things they could improve, and now they are reaping the benefits. Customer satisfaction is not a byproduct of a healthy economy. Instead, a healthy economy is a consequence of satisfied customers."
The results of the survey are significant for retail companies, points out ForeSee. Compared to unhappy consumers, a happy online shopper is 73 percent more likely to purchase an item via the Net, 72 percent more likely to recommend it, and 47 percent more likely to buy it offline. To put that in dollars, ForeSee has found that even a 1 percent increase in a retailer's satisfaction level can predict an $89 million boost in sales, regardless of the size of the company.
Several factors lead to a satisfied online customer, according to the study, including fair and competitive prices, variety and availability of products, usability of the retailer's Web site, and accuracy and quality of information on the site.
The study was compiled via a method developed at the University of Michican and was based on surveys of more than 23,000 visitors to the top 100 online retailers in terms of sales volume.