The top 10 retail Web sites offering apparel and footwear with the highest customer satisfaction scores.
Who doesn’t shop the Web these days? From Amazon to eBay, neimanmarcus.com to walmart.com, e-tailing is booming. Twice each year, ForeSee Results and FGI Research produce an e-tail study on customer satisfaction, based on more than 8,500 surveys of consumers who browsed the 40 highest-grossing e-tail sites from Internet Retailer (ranked in the June issue). WWD took a look at sites that sell apparel and footwear products. Any trends? “High customer satisfaction is linked to higher likelihood to purchase and to recommend,” said Larry Freed, president and chief executive officer of ForeSee Results. “The Amazons of the world, they’re totally focused on their online channel. Brick-and-mortars have the additional challenge of meeting the expectations of both their online and offline consumers.”
Web site satisfaction score: 83
Amazon’s extensive customer service section of its Web site is a testament that customers really are the drivers of the site, which sells apparel, shoes, books, cosmetics, electronic appliances, baby products and more — either in links with other retailers or from its own warehouses. Once shoppers create an account and make purchases, Amazon’s edge is its database, which often will provide suggestions and recommendations on other products those shoppers might like. Customers also can take advantage of Amazon’s “Free Super Saver Shipping” on orders of $25 or more of eligible products. Its 2005 annual report points out the company philosophy, laid out in 1997 to shareholders, which includes a number of goals, the first being: “We will continue to focus relentlessly on our customers.”
WWD reported this month that the $6.5 billion QVC is evaluating a service that brings the feel of broadcast TV to its Web site. QVC has been “feeding its Web site audio and live-action video, starring its familiar TV hosts and products ranging from apparel and skin care to high-definition TVs,” WWD said. “Detailed information about featured products, such as sizes, colors and images, appeared adjacent to the video window and changed to keep pace with the footage.” When the company’s online domestic sales topped $800 million in February, Bob Myers, vice president of qvc.com merchandising, marketing and business development, commented: “QVC’s online success centers around our belief that we are one brand in our customers’ eyes, regardless of the channel they choose to shop.”
3. LLBEAN.COM *
In 1916, L.L. Bean himself placed this notice on the wall of his Freeport, Maine, store: “I do not consider a sale complete until goods are worn out and customer still satisfied.” Today, on the company’s Web site home page, L.L. Bean directs any customers with questions to its customer service section, which allows shoppers to reach a customer service representative by e-mail or phone, and provides information on return services and policies, order tracking, shipping and account information. Direct links to its most recent catalogues also are located in this section.
4. OLDNAVY.COM *
The popularity of the site might stem from all the perks it constantly offers its customers: $5 shipping on every order, or free shipping on online purchases of $50 or more; frequent sweepstakes, and a “Buzzworthy” feature that provides information on the retailer’s latest TV ads and fashions. Owned by San Francisco-based Gap Inc., Old Navy’s customer service section on its Web site provides shoppers with easy returns and exchanges (whether in-store or online), and online shoppers also can track their purchases via the Web site until they receive their order.
5. CHADWICKS.COM *
Founded in 1983, Chadwick’s was the first online fashion catalogue company for women. What has paved the way for its success is that it claims to offer the same quality apparel found in department and specialty stores — but at lower prices. Headquartered in West Bridgewater, Mass., Chadwick’s is owned by Redcats USA (part of Gucci Group parent PPR). Chadwicks.com has plenty to spark its shoppers’ interests, including “Web-only” specials on its products, a current online-only selection of swimwear and two sections titled “Fabrics We Love” and “Features We Love,” which provide shoppers with selections on popular materials and prints currently in the collections.
6. HSN.COM *
The Home Shopping Network has an ideal demographic of female apparel shoppers: The multichannel retailer’s shoppers are 75 percent female, between the ages of 25 and 54 and have average incomes of $61,000. Hsn.com, an extension of HSN, the television shopping network, prides itself on having originated the electronic retailing concept back in 1977. In addition to selling apparel brands such as Nicole Miller, Nine West and Etienne Aigner, other beauty, home, accessories and electronics brands, such as Sony and Kodak, are sold through the retailer, whose headquarters are in Saint Petersburg, Fla.
7. ZAPPOS.COM *
Since its inception in 1999, founder Nick Swinmurn has worked aggressively to stock this online store with nearly 2 million shoes in 90,000 styles. His ultimate mandate, though, is to be an “online service leader.” That pledge is backed up with a 110 percent price guarantee (meaning the retailer will refund your money if you find the product cheaper elsewhere), fast shipping and 24/7 service provided by a 600-person staff. In February, chief executive officer Tony Hsieh told Internet Retailer, “Our growth primarily has come from repeat customers and word of mouth. On any given day, more than 60 percent of our sales come from repeat customers.”
The 99-unit department store chain is intent on generating $1 billion in sales from its Web site by offering “superior service.” Merchandise such as shoes and ready-to-wear replicates the stores. On the Web site, customers can walk down an illustrated designer boulevard packed with Dolce & Gabbana, Missoni and Armani goods, or they can choose to speak with a beauty or design specialist live for additional help. Another section, titled “Special Shopping Features,” includes a “Gift Finder,” a link to e-mail friends with product info, an express checkout and “My Wish List,” where customers can keep track of items they may want to buy in the near future.
9. JCPENNEY.COM *
This 104-year-old moderate department store chain, once called “The Golden Rule,” always has stressed personal service. Ceo Myron E. “Mike” Ullman 3rd now is aggressively applying this mission to Penney’s Internet business, where he wants to double revenue to $2 billion. The strategy: dishing up trendy styles served with bigger images and suggestion boxes that nudge customers to buy additional outfits. Last month, WWD reported that, at the company’s annual general meeting, Ullman stated: “Retailing is a contact sport and it’s all about winning the customers by understanding her needs, wants and lifestyles. We’re focusing on businesses that our core customers feel strongly about.”
10. NEIMANMARCUS.COM *
The upscale department store chain that launched weekly retail fashion shows back in 1927 is finding strong footholds in small, luxury-loving places with its Web site. It’s chockablock with luxe designers, such as Burberry, Diane von Furstenberg, Yves Saint Laurent and Jean Paul Gaultier, indexed by name. There are also enticing incentives for its online audience, which include personal shoppers, rewards programs for members and a downloadable high-fashion quarterly.
Source: foresee results and fgi research; web site satisfaction scores were derived from university of michigan’s american customer satisfaction index methodology, A SCIENTIFIC FORMULA THAT PREDICTS FUTURE CONSUMER SPENDING BEHAVIOR. *Indicates a tie