But the real winner may well be e-commerce itself, Larry Freed, ForeSee's president/CEO, tells Marketing Daily. "We looked at the number of people who came to the Web to actually make a purchase, as opposed to just browse, and that number rose to 38% this year, from 34% last year," he says. "And while that may reflect gains in the economy, it is also an indication that people continued to be more satisfied shopping online. Shoppers were quicker to pull the trigger." Overall satisfaction declined one percentage point to 78 on its 100-point scale, but is still substantially above the 74 scored in 2008.
The top five retailers are all at the top of their game, he says. Amazon and Netflix, tied with 86 on a scale of 100, are followed by QVC (which rose three points to 84), Avon (up two points to 83), and L.L. Bean (up three points to 83.)
But there are signs of weaknesses among the 40 largest individual retailers tracked by the study, as well. Walmart, for example, the world's biggest retailer, fails to crack the top 10, "despite equal scores with Amazon when it comes to customer perceptions of price," the report says. "The data suggest that Walmart's top priority should be site functionality."
ForeSee also analyzes which elements play the greatest part in satisfying customers. For example, how well a site functions was a primary driver for 19 of the 40 sites. Including Apple, Dell, Costco, Netflix, Sears, and Walmart. But merchandise variety was top priority for 14 of the measured sites, including Amazon, Avon, Best Buy, L.L. Bean, Macy's, and Newegg.
Price, on the other hand, came in No. 1 only at eight sites, including Avon, Cabela's, and Target. And content was only a priority for two sites: Victoria's Secret and Williams-Sonoma.
Overall, Freed says, he continues to be impressed with the way Amazon stays ahead, year after year. The Seattle-based retailer just announced that the third-generation Kindle has become its best-selling product ever, even surpassing the final Harry Potter book.
"So many people own a Kindle, yet it's still constantly featured on its home page -- most retailers would have taken it off by now and put something else there," he says. "But consumers look past it. And it's not just the biggest site, it continues to grow the most, including the biggest percentage growth. That's just incredible."