Online was the hot venue this holiday. According to ComScore Networks, online spending (excluding travel purchases) from Nov. 1 to Dec. 26 hit $23.1 billion, a 26 percent increase from the same period in 2005. But what sites kept customers the happiest? ForeSee Results, in partnership with FGI Research, has released its Top 40 Online Retail Satisfaction Index scores. “The leaders here are really working hard to remain the leaders,” said Larry Freed, president and chief executive officer of ForeSee Results in a statement. “They aren’t resting on their laurels or giving other retailers a chance to erode their customer base.” Freed told WWD that each site has its own story to tell. For example, Quixtar.com and Netflix.com all have a specific following, whereas Amazon.com relies heavily on a broader audience and faces bigger challenges, like shipping schedules.
Holiday 2006 customer satisfaction score: 86
Memberships and sales of DVDs on Netflix.com, the mail-order DVD rental company, were popular hits. “Though Netflix.com is not your average holiday retailer, this site has really set the tone for this industry,” said Freed of ForeSee Results. “The majority of visitors are subscribers. Without good customer experience and a strong business model, Netflix.com wouldn’t have a business.” The site also provides movie synopses, along with reviews from critics and members.
At the end of December, the Seattle-based online retailer said the 2006 season finished as its “best ever,” with the busiest shopping day being Dec. 11, when customer orders exceeded four million items. The company also said it had shipped more than 99 percent of orders in time to meet holiday deadlines worldwide. In its apparel and accessories section, a top seller was the Kenneth Cole Reaction Men’s Hadley Poly Bonded Hipster jacket. Top-selling shoes included the Nine West Women’s Ealene boot and BCBG Girls’ Kayo Mid Shaft boot.
This winter might be a mild one in most parts of the country, but plenty of cold-weather gear was available for shoppers at L.L. Bean’s Web site. Outerwear, such as the women’s Vortex Soft-shell Jacket and Trail Model Fleece Pants, were on hand for adventure enthusiasts. To accompany the apparel, outdoor items like ice skates, snowshoes and even hardwood sleds could be purchased. The site is currently unloading much of its inventory in its winter sale, where selected styles are 60 percent off.
The Westchester, Pa.-based online shopping site celebrated its 20th birthday in November, which helped to jump-start holiday sales. Popular fashion items included the Dennis Basso Faux Mink throw (approximately $49.50) and the Honora cultured freshwater pearl sterling three-piece wardrobe set (approximately $101). The site is featuring a best of 2006 section, where shoppers can view some of the most popular items of the year in categories such as accessories and shoes, beauty, women’s apparel and jewelry, to name a few.
IPods and Apple MacBooks were big hits on Apple’s Web site. The computer company earlier this year released slimmer versions of its iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle, while the white 13-inch MacBook retails for less than $1,300 and ships free within 24 hours of purchase. And for those who didn’t know what to give, there were always gift cards.
The retailer, owned by Gap Inc., might be struggling with same-store sales, but clearly it is keeping its Web customers happy. For holiday, oldnavy.com was selling items such as fake-fur trim hoodies and cashmere sweaters, for less than $50. Trendy accessories like gloves and scarves had price tags below $10, while ballet flat shoes were selling for $20. Oldnavy.com is now having its holiday sale, which offers up to 50 percent off selected styles for men, women, children and infants.
The online health and beauty retailer, a division of Alticor Inc., targeted the health-conscious consumer. A few exclusive brands under the Quixtar.com umbrella include Nutrilite vitamins, minerals and dietary supplements, Artistry skin care and cosmetics, XS energy drinks and NAO cosmetics. Creating an account with the site allows customers to track their orders, check order history and create shopping lists of items for possible future purchases.
Visitors to Hewlett-Packard’s Web site were able to obtain the computer company’s holiday return policies and shipping schedule right on its home page. Popular items included the HP Photosmart All-in-One printer, the HP Pavilion notebook PC and HP MediaSmart High-Definition LCD TV. The customer service section of the site provides shopping tips, along with details on latest coupons, mail-in rebates and perks for members.
With its headquarters located in City of Industry, Calif., Newegg.com is a leading online computer, consumer electronics and communications product superstore. Known for its testimonials and product reviews section (every product on the site contains a review and an “egg” rating of between one and five eggs), the company said at the end of December that its customer product reviews have recently broken the 500,000 mark. Newegg.com has more than six million registered customers.
At Barnes & Noble’s online branch, customers were able to order up to midnight on Dec. 18 and still receive free shipping on orders of $25 or more with delivery in time for Christmas. Favorites included bestsellers from Michael Crichton, James Patterson, Stephen King and Nicholas Sparks, among others. Cookbooks, DVDs, music and toys were also popular gift items.
The Round Rock, Tex.-based computer company may be having its hiccups in terms of growth and customer service, but clearly that hasn’t affected customer satisfaction with its Web site. The company states on its site: “Dell has revolutionized the industry to make computing accessible to customers around the globe, including businesses, institutional organizations and individual consumers.” A variety of PCs were on tap for shoppers during the holidays. Dell.com provides detailed product descriptions and suggestions as to which computers fit best for business or personal use.
Those looking for cool kitchen accessories and cooking gadgets could find plenty at williamssonoma.com. Items like the storybook cookie cutters, the gingerbread quickbread and fake berry garland are now on sale. Anyone could enjoy the Sephra Chocolate Fountain fondue set, on sale for $38.99. And the detailed tile serving platter that was originally $159 is available for $99.99. An added perk for customers: For every product, the site provides alternative gift ideas in its “You May Also Like…” section.