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2013 online customer experience index released

By Retail Technology | Friday December 20 2013

UK’s best and worst online retailers named, as aggregate customer satisfaction drops and more retailers fall into the 'underperforming' category

Customer experience analytics technology provider ForeSee has announced the findings of its annual ‘experience index,’ which measures customer experience across the UK’s top 40 online retailers.

The 2013 UK Retail ForeSee Experience Index (FXI) report indicates a slight, but noticeable, decrease in aggregate satisfaction from Christmas 2012 to Christmas 2013 (from 74 to 73 on the study’s 100-point scale) – the first drop since the survey was launched in 2007 after five years of stability and growth. 

While the provider said a one-point drop was considered a small decrease, the direct effect that satisfaction has on revenues and profitability meant that even this slight reversal of fortune has the potential for significant negative impact. It noted research conducted across the top 100 US retailers which found that, for an individual company, a one-point increase in satisfaction is likely to lead to a 10.6% increase in revenues generated on the web, suggesting a potentially major loss of value for UK online retailers too should this decline persist. 

Customer expectations on the rise

Larry Freed, ForeSee chief executive, commented: “After witnessing the aggregate customer satisfaction score increasing every year we’ve reported on the top 40 UK retailers’ Christmas performance, it’s disappointing to see a drop this year. It may be a fall of only one point, but this represents significant fallout for many – especially those that have seen larger drops. 

With a proven, quantifiable relationship between a positive customer experience online and increased loyalty, sales and recommendations, many of the online retailers in the UK top 40 clearly need to pay more attention to satisfying their UK customers. This is especially true of the 19 retailers listed with an average or lower score, which are risking loyalty, recommendations, sales and market share.” 

As the seventh year that ForeSee has conducted an analysis of customers’ shopping experience with the UK’s top 40 online retailers, the revealing data is the result of almost 10,000 customer surveys collected each year during the prime Christmas shopping period (in November and December) and affords year-on-year comparisons of not only aggregate e-retail satisfaction, but also of satisfaction with individual retailers. 

The Index measures four high-level factors that affect overall customer satisfaction: site functionality, price, merchandise and content.

Separating the best from the rest

With a score of 80 or above generally considered the threshold of excellence, Amazon continued to dominate the top of the leaderboard. However, neither its US or UK site achieved any improvement in score ( maintained its 2012 score of 84) and actually fell by two points on last year’s score (of 86) to equal its US counterpart’s score. 

Dropping out of the group of retailers that surpass the excellent threshold of 80, John Lewis fell by a point to 79, but managed to hold on to its third place position in the Index. Apple (with 78 points), Marks & Spencer (with 77) and Asda Direct and Ikea (both with 76) also appear at the top of the Index.

At the other end of the scale, Ryanair continued to bottom out the Index by a significant margin – it rests a full eight points behind the three next-worst performers. With a score of 60 (down one point from 2012) the airline is clearly continuing to frustrate its customers and this will continue to impact its bottom line into 2014. 

By contrast, this year’s largest increases went to Netflix (up three points to 71) and Ikea (also up three points – to a score of 76). However, the Index also highlighted how there is now a notable 24-point gap between the highest scoring e-retailer (Amazon UK, with 84) and the lowest (Ryanair, with 60). 

Satisfaction levels starting to drop

Average satisfaction for the top 40 e-retailers also slipped from 74 to 73 and just 21 of the measured companies surpassed that average, leading the ForeSee report to conclude a lot of work needs to be done in 2014 to satisfy customers more effectively. This is especially the case when highly satisfied online shoppers in the UK emerged as 61% more likely to commit to the brand, while 61% were more likely to purchase next time. A further 70% were more likely to recommend the retailer and 52% were more likely to return to the website than their less satisfied peers.

Also noteworthy was the fact that the aggregate score for online-only or ‘pureplay’ retailers dropped by a single point to 73 this year, signifying that there is more work to be done. By contrast those multichannel retailers with ‘bricks and mortar’ shops alongside their e-commerce channels, slightly increased their aggregate score by one point to 74. 

Freed added: “A drop in scores for any site is a result of either retailers not meeting the consumers’ rising expectations, or changes to the sites that turned out to be changes that didn’t improve the customer experience. The good news for those with disappointing scores is that they can do something about it! By taking a closer look at customers’ needs and expectations and by using analytics to measure what works and doesn’t, they can take control of their sites and make them work even harder for their businesses into 2014 and beyond.”

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