Amazon Got It Right Last Month

For the seventh year running, ForeSee has conducted the E-Retail Satisfaction Index, U.S. Holiday Edition, an analysis of customer satisfaction with the top 40 online retailers in the United States during the 2011 holiday shopping season.

The study shows that highly satisfied visitors to retail websites in the U.S. say they are 65% more committed to the brand overall, 68% more likely to purchase from the retailer online, 48% more likely to purchase from the retailer offline, and 67% more likely to recommend the retailer than their dissatisfied counterparts.

Key findings of this year’s research include:

  • After dropping one point from 2009-2010 (from 79 to 78 on the study’s 100-point scale), satisfaction with the top 40 U.S. e-retailers rebounded this year (from 78 to 79).
  • Netflix drops six points from its perch as perennial satisfaction leader (from 85 to 79); meanwhile Amazon gains two points to achieve a score of 88, the highest score ever attained by any retailer measured in this Index since 2005.
  • Top-performing e-retailers include Amazon, Avon, JC Penney, QVC, and Apple. Bottom performers include Overstock and the Gap.
  • American consumers were less price sensitive during the 2011 holiday shopping season than they were last year. 2011 data shows that, at the aggregate level, price has a smaller impact on satisfaction than last year. For many e-retailers, improving merchandise and content would have a greater return on investment than price.

Compared to shoppers who report being dissatisfied with a website, highly satisfied shoppers say they are 64% more likely to consider the company next time they are purchasing a similar product. Satisfied shoppers also report being far more likely to return to the site, recommend it, and be loyal to the brand. Another convincing argument for the importance of customer satisfaction is that an analysis of top e-retailers in the United States shows that a one-point change in website satisfaction was found to predict a 14% change in the log of revenues generated on the web, says the report.

Satisfaction scores for individual e-retailers span a 16-point range, from a high of 88 (Amazon) to a low of 72 (Overstock). The clear winner this year is perennial top-scorer Amazon (88), up two points from last year’s already-remarkable score of 86. Fourteen other retail websites registered scores at or above 80, which is generally considered the threshold for excellence when using this methodology. The report concludes that if the study were to include thousands of e-retailers from big to small, scores of 80 and higher would emerge as being in the top 10-20%.

Two sites fell to the bottom of the Index this year. Traditionally, true laggards are defined as sites with as score of 69 or lower, but for the last few years, none of the top 40 retailers have scored under 70. It’s a reminder that even the lowest-scoring of the top retailers still perform relatively well.

Online Customer Satisfaction (100 Point Scale)


Online Retailer (.com)

Satisfaction Index









Apple store






LL Bean


Victoria’s Secret






Source: Foresee, December 2011


Amazon led all major online retailers this holiday season in customer satisfaction, earning a score of 88 on a 100-point scale, the highest ever attained by a retailer studied since 2005, says the report. Overall, 15 sites scored at or above 80, generally considered by ForeSee to be the threshold for excellence. Average customer satisfaction with the top 40 online retail websites increased by a point to tie 2009’s peak of 79.

Six sites experienced notable increases this year of three points or more.

Increase in 2011

Points Increase


+6 (after a major drop from 80 in 2009 to 73 in 2010, the site rebounded six points and 8% to 79)


JC Penney (up five points and 6% to 83)


Dell (up four points and 5% to 80)


VistaPrint (up three points and 4% to 83)


Home Depot (up three points and 4% to 78)


Macy’s (up three points and 4% to 78)

Source: Foresee, December 2011

Five sites declined significantly from last year; down three or more points. This year’s biggest decliner was Netflix, which tied with Amazon for

the top spot in last year’s top 40.

Decrease in 2011

Points Decrease



Netflix (down seven points and 8% to 79)


Gap (down five points and 6% to 73)

-4 (down four points and 5% to 72)

Source: Foresee, December 2011

Why should a company put resources into increasing satisfaction unless there is a demonstrable payoff, asks the report. The methodology used to conduct this study recognizes that satisfaction itself is not the only desired end result. Using hits, clicks, time spent, or revenue reports alone to determine how well the online retail industry performed during the 2011 holiday shopping season provides good insight, but also leaves many critical questions unanswered, opines the report.

The results show that a satisfied shopper is far more likely to purchase (online and offline), remain loyal, and engage in positive word-of-mouth recommendations than a dissatisfied shopper. For many business leaders, this finding makes intuitive sense, but ForeSee’s causal analytics are able to quantify the impact of a satisfied online shopper on a retailer’s overall business operations.

Compared to shoppers who are dissatisfied with an online experience (have website satisfaction scores of 69 or lower), shoppers who are highly satisfied with a retail website (have satisfaction scores of 80 or higher) say they are 68% more likely to purchase from that retailer online and 48% more likely to purchase offline.

  • Highly satisfied holiday shoppers are 64% more likely to buy from that retailer the next time they buy similar merchandise (customer loyalty), 65% more committed to the brand, and 52% more likely to return to the website than those who are dissatisfied.
  • Compared to dissatisfied shoppers, satisfied shoppers say they are 59% more satisfied with the retailer overall, transcending the experience with the website alone. This information translates to a considerable website contribution to brand affinity.
  • Highly satisfied shoppers say they are 67% more likely to recommend the website to a friend, family member, or colleague than are dissatisfied shoppers.

Satisfied Customers Are More Likely to Purchase, Be Loyal, and Recommend

Likely Future Behavior

Satisfaction 80+ (Highly Satisfied)

Satisfaction 69 or Lower (Dissatisfied)

% Difference Between Highly Satisfied & Dissatisfied

Brand Commitment




Likelihood to Return




Likelihood to Purchase Next Time




Likelihood to Purchase from the Retailer Offline




Likelihood to Purchase from the Retailer Online




Likelihood to Recommend




Retailer Satisfaction




Source: Foresee, December 2011

The statistical model, concludes the report, reveals that to increase shoppers’ likelihood to purchase, return, and recommend, retailers need to increase overall satisfaction. To increase overall satisfaction, retailers need to be aware of how changing specific elements of their websites impact satisfaction. The critical elements are:

  • Merchandise
  • Functionality
  • Content
  • Price

For additional information from Foresee, please visit here.


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