Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 17:35 EDT

E-Commerce Customer Satisfaction Continues To Rise According to ACSI

February 26, 2013

Smaller online retailers narrow Amazon’s lead; Online brokerage rebounds with the market; Online travel satisfaction falls

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Feb. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s (ACSI) annual E-Commerce Report, produced in partnership with customer experience analytics firm ForeSee, customer satisfaction with e-commerce websites continues to rise, gaining 1.2% to 81.1 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale. The improvement in the e-commerce sector, which comprises the online retail, brokerage, and travel categories, is driven in part by the strong performance of the aggregate of smaller e-retailers and e-brokerages.

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“Just as we have seen in the public sector, consumers enjoy the convenience and power of e-commerce and online transactions. E-commerce is maturing, and even the smaller companies are improving, keeping up with or sometimes surpassing larger, more established companies,” said Claes Fornell, ACSI founder and professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. “The e-commerce landscape changes faster than more traditional industries, and the rules can be rewritten by new players or new technologies, like mobile. Disruption will always be a part of e-commerce, but innovation will likely keep the sector near the top in customer satisfaction.”

Online Retail
Online retail increases 1.2% to an ACSI score of 82, outperforming the brick-and-mortar retail trade sector (76.6) by a wide margin. Amazon continues to the lead the industry (and tops all measured e-commerce companies in this month’s Index) despite a 1% drop to 85. The “all others” category, which is an aggregate of e-retailers and other companies not individually measured, jumps 3% to 82. The “all others” category contains many e-retail websites that also have a brick-and-mortar presence.

                            2011       2012
                            ----       ----
    Online Retail Aggregate   81         82
    -----------------------  ---        ---
    Amazon                    86         85
    ------                   ---        ---
    Newegg                    85         84
    ------                   ---        ---
    eBay                      81         83
    ----                     ---        ---
    All Others                80         82
    ----------               ---        ---
    Overstock                 83         81
    ---------                ---        ---
    Netflix                   74         75
    -------                  ---        ---

“Brick-and-mortar retailers are not conceding the Internet to online natives such as Amazon,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee. “They are investing heavily resources in providing a better experience for their customers, providing more evidence that competition is good for the consumer.”

After last year’s 14% drop, Netflix gains 1% to 75 but remains the lowest scoring company in e-commerce. “Netflix’s recovery comes amid increased competition and tough negotiations with content providers. Netflix knows that access to content is key, and creating exclusive content and a franchise that will help it secure a loyal following is a unique approach. But it remains to be seen if this tactic can return the company to the top of the online retail category,” said Freed.

Online Brokerage
Customer satisfaction with online brokerage increases 2.6% to 86, led by a surge in the “all others” category (+4% to 78), which includes a range of online brokerages from large financial institutions like Wells Fargo and Merrill Lynch to smaller brokerages like Scottrade and Sharebuilder. Fidelity (-2% to 78) shares the top spot in the category. Charles Schwab (-3% to 77) and TD Ameritrade (-1% to 77) are close behind, while E*TRADE suffers the largest drop of any e-commerce company (-8% to 73) a year after setting a personal best.

                               2011       2012
                               ----       ----
    Online Brokerage Aggregate   76         78
    --------------------------  ---        ---
    Fidelity                     79         78
    --------                    ---        ---
    All Others                   75         78
    ----------                  ---        ---
    Charles Schwab               79         77
    --------------              ---        ---
    TD Ameritrade                78         77
    -------------               ---        ---
    E*TRADE                      79         73
    -------                     ---        ---

“All the household names in online brokerage are down, yet the category is up on the strength of the ‘all others’ category, which is made up of both traditional financial institutions and smaller e-brokerages,” added Freed. “It just goes to show you that industry leaders cannot and should not rest on their laurels just because they are well established. Traditional firms have the resources to invest in improving the customer experience and probably should. At the same time, newer and smaller players are demonstrating that they are nimble enough to keep pace with constantly changing customer expectations.”

Online Travel
The online travel industry continues to be anyone’s game, as only two points separate all measured companies. Customer satisfaction with online travel falls 2.6% to 76, the largest decline of all measured categories. Expedia (-1%), Orbitz (no change), and the “all others” category (-4%) lead e-travel with a score of 76. Travelocity falls 5% to 75 after leading the Index last year. Although the gap between Priceline and industry leaders is the narrowest since 2002, when the travel category was first included in ACSI, the company remains at the bottom of the group (-3% to 74).

                            2011       2012
                            ----       ----
    Online Travel Aggregate   78         76
    -----------------------  ---        ---
    Expedia                   77         76
    -------                  ---        ---
    Orbitz                    76         76
    ------                   ---        ---
    All Others                79         76
    ----------               ---        ---
    Travelocity               79         75
    -----------              ---        ---
    Priceline                 76         74
    ---------                ---        ---

“Mobile is going to reshape e-commerce, but it has the most potential to improve the experience for the traveling consumer. That may be a tall order, though. Hotels and airlines are attempting to assert more control over their relationships with their customers, fragmenting the online experience and doing more harm than good in the short term,” said Freed.

A free report with historical scores for all of the e-commerce companies measured by the ACSI is available at www.ForeSeeResults.com.

About ACSI
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is a national economic indicator of customer evaluations of the quality of products and services available to household consumers in the United States. The ACSI uses data from interviews with roughly 70,000 customers annually as inputs to an econometric model for measuring satisfaction with more than 230 companies in 47 industries and 10 economic sectors, as well as over 100 services, programs, and websites of federal government agencies.

ACSI results are released on a monthly basis, with all measures reported using a scale of 0 to 100. ACSI data have proven to be strongly related to a number of essential indicators of micro- and macroeconomic performance. For example, firms with higher levels of customer satisfaction tend to have higher earnings and stock returns relative to competitors. Stock portfolios based on companies that show strong performance in ACSI deliver excess returns in up markets as well as down markets. And, at the macro-level, customer satisfaction has been shown to be predictive of both consumer spending and gross domestic product growth.

The Index was founded at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and is produced by ACSI LLC and supported in part by ForeSee, corporate sponsor for the e-commerce and e-business measurements. The ACSI can be found on the Web at www.theacsi.org.

About ForeSee
As a pioneer in customer experience analytics, ForeSee continually measures satisfaction across customer touch points and delivers critical insights on where to prioritize improvements for maximum impact. Because ForeSee’s superior technology and proven methodology connect the customer experience to the bottom line, executives and managers are able to drive future success by confidently optimizing the efforts that will achieve business and brand objectives. The result is better business for companies and a better experience for consumers. ForeSee is headquartered in Ann Arbor, MI and can be found online at www.foresee.com.

Chaat Butsunturn, Kearns & West
415-391-7900 x114
Amanda Piasecki, Kearns & West
202-535-7800 x114


Source: PR Newswire