What creates customer satisfaction on a retail e-commerce website? According to marketing research firm Foresee, it is the combination of four things:
Do customers perceive the retail website prices to be good, fair, and reasonably competitive with the prices being offered by other online retailers and also brick-and-mortar stores?
Is the merchandise appealing? Is there a good variety of merchandise? Is the merchandise easily available for direct shipping, shipping to a store? Does the website provide invormation about whether the merchandise is available for immediate purchase in a physical store?
3) Website Functionality
Is the retail website user friendly? Do all technical elements of the website function properly? Is the website fast or slow? is the website organized in a convenient way?
Is the information on the retail website accurate? Is the content of the website current and fresh? Does the information provided by the retail website give Internet shoppers everything they need to make a buying decision without any human intervention or interaction?
If the answers to all of these questions are an enthusiastic "Yes!" then a retail shopping website has created customer satisfaction, according to Foresee.
Each year since 2005, Foresee has done a research study with Internet shopping customers to find out which Internet retail websites have done the best job at creating customer satisfaction, based on the four website aspects outlined above. Out of 40 major online Internet shopping websites, these were the 10 retail websites that customers gave highest marks to in the 2011 Foresee Holiday E-Retail Satisfaction Index:
2011 - Amazon.com
2011 - Avon.com
2011 - jcp.com (jcpenney)
2011 - QVC.com
2011 - store.apple.com
2011 - VistaPrint.com
2011 - Newegg.com
2011 - BN.com (Barnes and Noble)
2011 - LLBean.com
2011 - Victoria's Secret.com
These are the websites that customers said provided the best online shopping experience, and therefore, these are the websites which should have done best with November and December e-commerce sales.
For every "best" there is also a corresponding "worst." So, it is also worth noting which Internet retail shopping websites customers gave the lowest scores and were least satisfied with. In the 2011 E-Retail Holiday Satisfaction survey, these were the retail websites with the lowest customer satisfaction:
2011 - HSN.com
2011 - Target.com
2011 - Blockbuster.com
2011 - OfficeDepot.com
2011 - OfficeMax.com
2011 - Sears.com
2011 - ToysRUs.com
2011 - Buy.com
2011 - Store.Sony.com
2011 - Gap.com
2011 - Overstock.com
It's interesting to note that the retail websites that had trouble satisfying customers online this holiday season are also, for the most part, the retailers that have had considerable troubles satisfying customers in their brick-and-mortar stores as well. The exception to that is Target, which is generally known for good customer satisfaction.
Target.com, unfortunately, experienced some major site crashes when their own great marketing drove more traffic to their retail website than their website infrastructure could handle. It's commonly thought that "too much business" is a problem that any retailer would like to have, but if Target.com gets a reputation for being "unstable," that has all sorts of implications for privacy and security in the minds of consumers as well. "Unstable" is not a reputation that any Internet company wants to have.