Pure Plays Offer Better Service Than Brick-and-Mortars, Study Finds

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Pure-play Internet retailers may have fallen by the dozens last year, but they were still able to outperform their brick-and-mortar counterparts last month in serving customers online, according to a study released yesterday by Nielsen//NetRatings and Harris Interactive.


The study, which surveyed 30,000 Web users in December, found that pure-play Internet retailers ranked higher in online customer satisfaction than traditional companies did. The top four companies ranked by customer satisfaction were Internet-only retailers, with Amazon.com leading the way.


Seven of the top 10 companies were pure-plays.


Meanwhile, among brick-and-mortar retailers, Barnes and Noble, Hallmark and JCPenney finished in the top 10.


Lori Iventosch-James, director of e-commerce research at Harris Interactive, Rochester, NY, said the study only ranked the 20 most-visited Web sites. For example, the study excluded online customer service by catalog companies that serve niche markets, she said.


"Catalog companies did very well," she said, "because they've already built their whole customer service infrastructure and the transition to online is a more direct process."


The study also found that about 13 percent of the population -- some 36 million people -- made a purchase online in December, totaling more than $7 billion in sales.


NetRatings, Milpitas, CA, a provider of Nielsen//NetRatings Internet audience services, and Harris Interactive, an Internet-based market research company, also announced a strategic alliance yesterday, promising to provide the Internet industry with online consumer information through a new service called eCommercePulse.
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