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E-Comm Industry Gets a 'C' Despite Record Spending

Despite the fact that consumers spent record amounts of money doing their holiday shopping online this year, online retailers only earned a 'C' rating for customer satisfaction.

The mediocre grade comes in even as more than half of online shoppers say they were 'highly satisfied' with their experience this year, according to ForeSee Results, an online customer satisfaction research company based in Ann Arbor, Mi. The e-tail industry earned 69 out of 100 points in ForeSee's customer satisfaction survey -- that's 8 points lower than last year.

''In a soft economy, retail websites are going to have to work a lot harder to satisfy shoppers and convert positive experiences into online and offline sales,'' says Larry Freed, CEO of ForeSee Results. ''They need to understand how satisfied their customers are, and how users' online experience today will impact what they do on e-commerce sites and stores in the future. Satisfying customers is the critical success factor for future online retailing success.''

ForeSee reports that 10% of online shoppers said they were 'extremely unsatisfied' with their online experience. And of that 10%, two-thirds say they do not plan to shop online next year.

But it's not all bad news.

Fifty-nine percent of online shoppers said they were 'highly satisfied' with their experience and 71% said they are 'very likely' to do their holiday shopping online next year, according to the study. And 69% said they were 'very likely' to recommend the experience to others.

The study rated online customer satisfaction by taking into account such factors as browsing capabilities, privacy and ease of returns.

''The 10% of online shoppers that were extremely unsatisfied with their online experience this year presents the industry with a classic opportunity,'' says Freed. ''E-retailers can improve a few key elements -- product browsing and ordering capability -- and the 2003 holiday season is theirs for the taking.''

Despite the industry's average satisfaction rating, e-tailers made more than ever this holiday season.

Consumer online sales between Nov. 1 and Dec. 20 this year hit a whopping $12.6 billion. That's up 29% verses the same holiday shopping period last year, according to comScore Networks, an online buying behavior research company. In the single week ending Dec. 20, consumer online sales totaled $1.9 billion, a 19% growth from the same week in 2001.

Online shoppers broke several spending records this year.

The research company reports that consumers set a one-day e-commerce record of $288 million on Dec. 12. That record-breaking day also boosted the week ending Dec. 13 into its own record-setting status. The second shopping week following Thanksgiving, according to comScore, brought in $2.2 billion in online consumer sales -- an all-time weekly spending record. That one week showed a 37% growth from the same period the year before.

Reprinted from Datamation