Amazon and Netflix Riding High, But Satisfaction With Many E-Commerce Sites Slipping

Smaller "pure-play" E-Commerce shops might be suffering in this tough economy, but even as they, and many big multi-channel retailers, see consumer satisfaction with their sites diminish, user happiness with Web-only powerhouses Netflix and Amazon doesn't seem to be wavering.

The two Internet-only retailers remained at the top of ForeSee Results' new list of sites in terms of user happiness. Although it was a 1.2 percent decline from the spring 2008 score, the 85 scored by Netflix landed the movie rental site at the top of the consumer satisfaction list for the third year. A perfect score would be 100. Amazon, with a score of 84 (a 1.2 percent increase over last spring) came in second-place followed by QVC with an 81. Wal-Mart's site scored 77, as did the J.C. Penny's, Cabelas and Drugstore.com sites.

User satisfaction with E-Commerce offerings from Apple, CVS, Blockbuster and Neiman Marcus declined substantially, said the researchers. Apple's satisfaction score slipped 6.3 percent, about the same decline seen for the sites run by Blockbuster, Williams-Sonoma and Talbots. The score for Nieman Marcus's site dropped 6.7 percent and the CVS site's slipped 7.8 percent, said ForeSee Results.

"Almost half of the measured sites (forty-seven) have seen decreases since the first year they were measured, and fifty-five sites saw year-over-year decreases," the report said. "This is a remarkable trend of declining satisfaction. Never in any industry we measure have we seen more than half of the measured companies fall from one year to the next."

On the bright side, consumer satisfaction with 16 sites increased during the year and 24 sites have seen satisfaction increases since they were first measured. Kohl's, with a satisfaction score increase of 5.6 percent year-over-year, led the group of sites showing improvement. Costco's score climbed 3 percent on the year (and 6 percent since it was first measured in 2005), about the same rate of improvement seen for Target, Wal-Mart, Victoria's Secret and Avon.

There weren't too many big retailer names at the bottom of the satisfaction list. The worst satisfaction score, a 62, went to efollet.com, a network of online bookstores. However, J. Crew and 1800Flowers.com weren't far from the bottom of the barrel, scoring only 69. J. Crew's site sustained a satisfaction score decline of nearly 3 percent year-over-year, not really surprising given the uptime problems the site repeatedly endured in recent months. Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, Overstock, Foot Locker, Abercrombie and Safeway were among the big sites languishing with scores of 70. Doing barely better, with scores of 71, were the E-Commerce efforts of Sears, Macy's, Nike, CVS, Toys R Us and Sony.

"An analysis of the factors that impact customer satisfaction shows that consumers are more price-sensitive than in previous years," said ForeSee Results CEO Larry Freed. He said prior Top 100 Online Retail Satisfaction Index reports showed that price had a "relatively low impact" on satisfaction. "However, the 2009 study reveals that, although shoppers aren't more dissatisfied than in previous years, price now matters more," Freed said.

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