Sourced From
February 27, 2006

More and more shoppers are parking in front of their computers instead of at the mall.

According to the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) E-Commerce Report from ForeSee Results, customer satisfaction with the e-commerce sector improved by 1.3% in 2005 to an aggregate score of 79.6. It should be noted, however, that even with this increase, customer satisfaction with the e-commerce sector is still more than a point lower than it was two years ago, when the aggregate score was 80.8.

As the sector matures, customers’ standards for e-commerce sites continue to rise, which means that online companies must struggle to keep up with both industry leaders and high customer expectations. But the pressure seems to be creating a better online shopping experience, at least on leading sites.

“Some companies have really figured out how to take customer satisfaction to the next level,” said Larry Freed, CEO of ForeSee Results.

The reports states: “As consumer standards rise, the “best of the best” e-commerce organizations are increasingly standing out from the rest of the pack, challenging competitors in their categories to enhance their focus on customer satisfaction in order to compete successfully.”

When it comes to which sector is performing best with customers online — among auctions, brokerage, retail, travel — retail is in the lead.

In terms of keeping customers happy, the report shows that e-commerce sites are definitely performing better than offline retail. According to the ACSI, customer satisfaction with online retail is nearly 12% higher than with the overall retail industry. In fact, while e-retail scores climbed by 1.3% last year, the overall retail industry moved in the opposite direction, dropping by 0.3%.

“E-retailers used to be at a disadvantage because customers couldn’t touch and feel their products, but they’ve figured out that there’s a whole lot more they can offer to make up for that,” said Mr. Freed. “Today’s online stores have evolved significantly, offering advances such as 360� views of products, customer reviews, side-by-side product comparisons, and extensive product information and specifications that often exceed what is available in a store or catalogue.”

For more information on the latest trends in retail, pick up eMarketer’s Multi-Channel Shopping: The Rise of the Retail Chains report.