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Price is key to e-commerce satisfaction: ForeSee survey

Customer satisfaction with many of the largest online retailers fell 3% since last year, according to the annual Top 100 Online Retail Satisfaction Index from ForeSee Results and FGI Research. ?

The research, which employs the methodology of the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), is based on surveys of more than 22,000 visitors to the top 100 e-retail Web sites by sales volume, as reported in the 2009 Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. ?

This year’s aggregate score of 73 indicates that some online retailers may be dropping the satisfaction ball. ?

“There are clearly some challenges ahead for retailers,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results. “We’re in a far more competitive environment than we’ve ever been in the life of the Internet. There is less consumer spending going on and the same number of retailers. At the end of the day, those that satisfy their customers are going to be the winners.”?

Satisfied online shoppers are more likely to purchase online than dissatisfied ones, more likely to recommend a Web site and more likely to make a purchase from the brand offline, according to the survey. This year’s survey also found that consumers are more price-sensitive than in previous years, when price has had a relatively low impact on overall satisfaction. ?

“Price is playing a bigger role” in the current retail environment, Freed said. ?

“Up until about six months ago, price had a limited impact on changing customer behavior for this list of top 100 retailers,” he explained. “Now, price and merchandise are the two factors with the biggest impact when it comes to customer satisfaction.”?

The change in the role of price has been driven by the economy, he added. ?

Netflix, with a score of 85, and Amazon, with a score of 84, led all e-retailers for the fifth straight year.?

The online retailers posting the biggest improvements include Kohls.com, with a 6% gain for a score of 76, and Costco, with a 3% gain for a score of 74.?

However, scores for more than half of the top 100 e-retailers declined. Apple.com slid nearly 6% for a total of 75, and now trails Dell.com and HPShopping.com. ?

CVS.com’s score declined 8% for a score of 71, putting it behind Walgreens and Drugstore.com.?

NeimanMarcus.com’s score lost 7% for a total of 70, and Williams-Sonoma.com and Talbots.com each lost 6.4% for a score of 73.

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