Etailers Are Hard on Themselves

We’re always hardest on ourselves, and the e-commerce industry is no different. When research firm ForeSee Results asked e-commerce insiders to rate the online shopping experience, they gave it a barely passing grade.

“[Survey respondents] are the most internet savvy crowd there is,” ForeSee CEO Larry Freed told “They know how it should work, and their expectations are very high.” ForeSee Results is also a sponsor of the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report on consumer satisfaction with several categories of e-business, including e-retail.

The e-retailers gave themselves a 63 for overall satisfaction. Compare that to the ACSI score of 88 for HJ Heinz and . It was better than the score of 55 given to Comcast. The ForeSee Results e-retail benchmark average was 77.

The survey, conducted by ForeSee Results and Internet Retailer magazine, didn’t ask about specific Web sites, but asked respondents to rate their general experiences with Web retailers over the last 90 days. A full 91 percent of the insiders told ForeSee that customer satisfaction was very important. However, only 24 percent thought the Web metrics tools they were using gave them any clue about how satisfied their customers were. “That tells us that we have a lot of technology out there,” Freed said, “but there’s a big missing ingredient — customer satisfaction.” He said that most Web traffic analysis tools could tell a company what customers had done, but not why they’d done it or whether doing it gave them that elusive feeling of satisfaction.

Elements of the online shopping experience that scored highest with the insiders were the ordering process, which got a 71, and functionality, which got a score of 69. Worst scores went to shopping returns, at 51 and account set-up, at 57.

On the other hand, Freed said, the general public was pretty happy with the state of ecommerce, giving it 83 out of 100 in the ACSI survey, up from a rating of 77 in the previous year. That rising satisfaction level bodes well for online sales. “We’ve seen steady growth in the e-commerce space,” Freed said, “and the trend seems to be continuing. The future looks bright for e-commerce.”

At least online retailers feel they’re improving. In last year’s ForeSee survey, they gave themselves an F.

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