Top-volume Web sites generally are failing to meet the expectations of America’s consumers.
That’s the underlying message from the annual Top 40 Online Retail Satisfaction Index study conducted by ForeSee Results and FGI Research. The firms surveyed 9,000 visitors to the nation’s 40 largest-volume Web sites.
Amazon and Netflix were rated the highest overall. L.L. Bean and Victoria’s Secret fared the best among apparel retailers.
Circuit City, Gap, The Home Depot, HSN, Neiman Marcus and Overstock got low ratings.
Web visitors were asked how satisfied they were with the overall site experience, regardless of whether they made a purchase. They also were asked to rate the site based on merchandise availability, variety, pricing and appeal; functionality, and whether they would recommend the site and return to it.
The responses were collected by FGI Research’s Smart Panel and the patented and predictive methodology of the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index was used to evaluate the retail Web sites’ ability to encourage loyalty and purchase intent. The Web sites are rated on a 100-point scale.
“In a recession, knowing that improving customer satisfaction with your Web site can engender that kind of loyalty and purchase intent is like money in the bank,” said Larry Freed, president and chief executive officer of ForeSee Results, an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based firm that measures and monitors online customer satisfaction to help companies increase sales and loyalty.
“But too many e-tailers are ignoring this crucial metric, and it shows in the results of our study. Only two of the 40 measured e-tailers scored above 80, and more than a quarter scored 70 or below. Nearly 40 percent saw satisfaction drop year-over-year. That’s just not playing to win in this economy.”
Amazon and Netflix both scored 84, and this past weekend, Amazon said it had its best holiday season ever, while most Web sites had disappointing ones. “Amazon is setting the bar for online retail satisfaction and sales, and I expect they will have better financial results than the rest,” Freed said.
According to ForeSee, only 10 of the 40 Web sites improved shopper satisfaction this year. The most improved were Wal-Mart, HP’s online store, Staples and Target.
About two dozen Web sites saw satisfaction declines year-over-year, with the biggest drops seen at HSN and Gap.
“Consumers were expecting big discounts this season, and price was a pretty important factor, but it’s not the be-all, end-all for satisfaction, even in a recession,” said Freed. “It’s much smarter for the long term to improve satisfaction through Web experience improvements than erode brand equity through price cuts. The travails of Detroit’s Big Three automakers illustrate that point profoundly.”
Freed said Gap Inc.’s new feature enabling consumers to use one cart to purchase products from all three of its brands — Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy — hurt the company’s positioning by drawing comparisons between brands. “It was a mistake. I don’t think it’s helping them in terms of perception.” But Freed acknowledged that customer satisfaction with the merchandise is another issue at Gap Inc.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast