Amazon Records Best Year Ever

While some areas of the retail landscape may be showing weakness this holiday
season, the granddaddy of all e-commerce sites, Amazon, isn’t among them.

Amazon announced this week that 2007 was its best holiday shopping season in its
entire 13-year history. According to the company, its busiest shopping day was
not the much-vaunted Cyber Monday (the Monday following Thanksgiving) but a rather different Monday — Dec. 10th. Amazon said that on that day, an average of 62.5 items sold every second.

Among the popular items customers purchased from Amazon this Christmas was the Nintendo Wii, which Amazon said sold at a staggering rate of 17 per second — when they were in stock.

That’s not to say that wasn’t busy on days closer to Christmas. According to online metrics company Hitwise, proved to be the most-visited site for the week ending Dec. 22, 2007, leading Hitwise’s index of the top 100 U.S. retail sites.

Amazon also scored well in the Online Retail Satisfaction Index Report research study conducted by ForeSee Results and FGI Research. The report is the summation of 11,000 consumer surveys based on visits to the top 40 revenue-grossing retail Web sites.

The e-commerce behemoth lost the top spot to DVD-by-mail company Netflix, which ForeSee and FGI said garnered a satisfaction score of 86. Amazon followed closely behind at 82. L.L. Bean and QVC tied for third, with a score of 80.

Amazon’s No. 2 ranking in the 2007 survey, represents a marginal decline of 2.4 percent from its 2006 holiday results. That coincided with an overall decrease in aggregate satisfaction based on the top 40 retail sites tracked by ForeSee. The survey found the top sites’ satisfaction score dropped 1.3 percent from 2006, to 74.

That didn’t seem to slow Amazon down much, however. According to Hitwise, the company held a commanding 12 percent share of U.S. retail visits last week with No. 2. coming in at just under 8 percent. Target, the third-ranked e-tailer, claimed around 5 percent.

All three sites appeared to benefit from continued growth in online spending, likewise undeterred by slipping customer satisfaction. Overall, Hitwise reported that U.S. traffic to the top 100 retail Web sites rose by 16 percent on a year-over-year basis.

The good news comes on the heels of otherwise mixed reports from the e-tail sector. Earlier this month, industry watcher comScore found that while online shopping continues to grow, that growth is slowing.

During Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving — top retailers posted an overall 10 percent average traffic increase, according to Nielsen Online. However, that figure came up short compared to the 12 percent growth during the year before.

Additionally, a number of shopping sites experienced slowdowns on key shopping days due to the load. Web metrics firm Keynote Systems found that a third of the top 30 online retail sites suffered from problems on Black Friday.

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