2013’s best and worst online retailers

shutterstock_162619064The UK’s online retailers have just seen the fastest growth in sales figures for 13 years, as reported by Retail Sales Index, IMRG/Capgemini.

The apparent relationship between positive customer experience and increased loyalty, sales and recommendations is highly recognised within retail. Therefore this increase in sales also suggests an equivalent rise in the customer satisfaction levels of online shoppers.

In an analysis of customer satisfaction levels and trends for the UK’s 40 leading online retailers during the Christmas shopping season, amazon.com and amazon.co.uk were found to be leading the way. Close behind were johnlewis.com, apple.com, marksandspencer.com, direct.ASDA.com and ikea.com, with diy.com, lastminute.com, ticketmaster.co.uk, ryanair.com being the lowest to score.

The study, titled the Forsee Experience Index (FXI) (2013 UK retail edition), offers online retailers predictive and actionable insights that can be used to make improvements on their websites. More than 10,000 customer surveys were collected during the festive months of November and December to in the words of commenter Larry Freed, President and CEO, ForeSee, “demonstrate to business leaders that understanding their customers’ needs and expectations is critical to thriving in an increasingly competitive business environment”.

Despite the glowing report for some of the online retailers, the study actually highlighted an overall decline in customer satisfaction compared with the results of 2012. The findings are possibly a reflection of “higher expectations of an increasingly sophisticated and hard-to-please marketplace” said Freed.

Working to enhance customer satisfaction is one of the most easily identifiable business improvement measures; not even the leading performers can afford any complacency when it comes to customer satisfaction; and bricks-and-mortar retailers are responding positively to the very real threat that growing online sales represent to their business, were the part of the key findings of the study.

In a nutshell, customer satisfaction drives loyalty and this in turn creates positive customer behaviour such as increased visits, purchases and recommendations. This fundamental relationship gives UK online retailers a clear route towards significant improvement of future revenues and profits. Taking a closer look at the positive outcomes of a satisfied shopper being that they are far more likely to return, purchase, stay loyal and share positive experiences than a dissatisfied shopper, the study suggests the following:

  • Future Purchase: Shoppers who are highly satisfied are 63% more likely to make another purchase from the retailer online and 51% more likely to make a future purchase in another channel.
  • Loyalty and Market Share: Shoppers who are highly satisfied say they are 61% more likely to buy from that retailer the next time they shop for similar merchandise, 61% more committed to the brand and 52% more likely to return to the website.
  • Positive Word of Mouth Recommendations: Shoppers who are highly satisfied say they are 70% more likely to recommend a retailer’s website to a friend, family member or colleague than are dissatisfied shoppers.

In conclusion, when it comes to prioritising the elements of a website that need improving in order to raise customer satisfaction levels, the study rated the following as the top 4 actions:

  1. Merchandise – The appeal, variety, and availability of products on the website.
    23 sites (58%) made merchandise their top priority: amazon.com, apple.com, argos.co.uk, ASDA.com, direct.ASDA.com, ASOS.com, boots.com, debenhams.com, halfords.com, houseoffraser.co.uk, johnlewis.com, laterooms.com, lovefilm.com, newlook.com, next.co.uk, riverisland.com, sportsdirect.com, tesco.com, direct.tesco.com, thetrainline.com, thomson.co.uk, very.co.uk, and marksandspencer.com.
  2. Content – Perceptions of accuracy, quality, and freshness of information.
    10 sites (25%) said content was their top priority: amazon.co.uk, cineworld.co.uk, easyjet.com, diy.com, thomascook.com, homebase.co.uk, ikea.com, britishairways.com, currys.co.uk, and travelrepublic.co.uk.
  3. Website Functionality – Usefulness, convenience, and variety of online features.
    Just six sites (15%) selected function is their key priority: expedia.co.uk, lastminute.com, netflix.com, onthebeach.co.uk, ryanair.com, and ticketmaster.co.uk.
  4. Price – Perceptions of the fairness and competitiveness of prices.
    Only one site (3%) felt that price should be its priority: topshop.com.