ForeSee, market leaders of customer satisfaction measurement and management, has today announced the findings of its annual Christmas customer satisfaction Index across the UK’s top 40 online retail websites during December.

The findings indicate a slight increase in satisfaction from Christmas 2010 to Christmas 2011: from 72 to 73 on the study’s 100-point scale (an increase of seven points since 2007, when ForeSee conducted its initial study). However, a one-point change still means a great deal in terms of revenue when it represents a change for a large group of retailers.

This is the fifth year running that ForeSee have measured customer satisfaction with the top 40 online retailers in the UK, enabling valuable year-on-year comparison to see which retailers have improved and which have slipped over time. This revealing data, taken during the prime Christmas shopping season, is the result of nearly 10,000 surveys responses collected from shoppers who had visited the top 40 online retail websites by traffic volume in the UK during November and December. The Index measures four high- level factors that affect overall customer satisfaction: functionality, price, merchandise, and content.

Key trends: Retailer Satisfaction Ratings

• The Leaders: Amazon.co.uk (85) scored highest this year, edging out last year’s top performer, Amazon.com, (82) to claim the top spot. Play.com (80) lost one point and now ties for second place with JohnLewis.com, which is up two points on last year and an impressive 11 points from 2007. Apple.com also performed well (up three points to 78) and enters the top five this year.

• The Fallers: The largest drop in scores came from CineworldCinemas.com (a three-point decrease) and Lovefilm.com (a four-point decrease). Both sites scored 72, placing them just below the overall e-retail average satisfaction score of 73.

• The Most Improved: This year’s largest increase (five points) was TheTrainLine.com (scoring 74). Currys.com, an e-retailer that has experienced score increases on this Index every year since 2008, was up four points this year to 73 points. Apple.com and RyanAir.com were each up three points (scoring 78 and 64 respectively).

• The Satisfaction Gap: Currently, there is a notable 24-point gap between the highest-scoring e-retailer (Amazon.co.uk, 85) and the lowest (London2012.com, 61). Comparing the largest online retailers (in terms of traffic, as ranked by IMRG) to the rest of the group, we see that eight of the 10 largest retailers are also in the top 10 in terms of satisfaction.

• Satisfaction Predicts Future Behaviours: A highly satisfied UK shopper reports being 62% more likely to buy from that retailer online and 64% more likely to recommend the retailer to others, , as well as being far more likely to return to the site, and be loyal to the brand.

• Comparison to Direct Competitors: All retailers in the Index are classified according to product category, which allows individual companies to check their own performance against those of companies selling the same products or services.

o Mass merchants – For the 16 e-retailers in this category, the average score was 75 – the same score as 2010. Top scoring mass merchants include Amazon.co.uk (85), Amazon.com (82), Play.com (80), and JohnLewis.com (80). The lowest scorer in this category was Halfords with a score of 70.

o Travel and Tourism - The nine sites measured in this category have an average score of 69. Thetrainline.com (74), Thomson (72), Easyjet.com (71), British Airways (70), and Expedia.co.uk (70) surpass the average while RyanAir (64) and London2012 (61)trail the leaders considerably.

o Apparel and Accessories – Three of the four sites included in this category score comparably (ASOS with 73, New Look and Next both scoring 72), but Topshop.com trails slightly with a score of 70.

o Computer and/or Electronics – The scores for the three included in this category vary considerably. The gap between Apple (78) and the others (Currys with a score of 73 and Comet, with 70) is widening.

o Books/CDs/DVDs – Last year the two e-retailers measured in this research (HMV and Lovefilm.com) were tied at 76. This year, whilst LoveFilm has dropped to 72 points, leaving it three points behind HMV (75).

o Hardware/Home Improvement – Out of the two e-retailers measured, Homebase (69) edges out B&Q ( 67) by two points, as it has for three straight years.

Larry Freed, CEO at ForeSee commented: “The Christmas shopping season is the most important time of the year in e-retail – especially this year during such a tumultuous economic period. The last few months of 2011 and early 2012 will most certainly may make or break many retailers. However, because such a large percentage of annual sales occur during this critical season, e-retailers have a unique opportunity to acquire new customers for years to come, strengthen relationships with existing ones and make a significant difference to their bottom line.”

“Our research shows just how important the impact of the online shopping channel is on overall business. One of the best ways to increase that impact is by improving customer satisfaction which results in increased sales, loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth recommendations. We hope to show that understanding customer needs and expectations is critical for retailers to continue to survive and thrive in an increasingly competitive and winner-takes-all business environment,” said Freed.

For a full list of the Top 40's scores, please visit: http://www.foresee.com/news-events/press-releases/

About the Research
The ForeSee E-Retail Satisfaction Index (UK Christmas Edition) is based upon a customer satisfaction methodology developed at the University of Michigan. It is the only cross-industry methodology able to consistently demonstrate organisations that more effectively satisfy customers realise higher financial returns. With origins in Sweden, where it was originally developed as the Swedish Barometer, this methodology has been adopted as a national measure of customer satisfaction by the United States (American Customer Satisfaction Index), the United Kingdom (National Customer Satisfaction Index UK) as well as by governments in Colombia, Dominican Republic, Korea, Mexico, Sweden, South Africa, Turkey and elsewhere. For the past 10 years, ForeSee has been measuring online customer satisfaction for leading retail sites including Best Buy, Sears and Target using this scientific approach. Additionally, the firm produces the annual US-based Top 40 Online Retail Satisfaction Index which provides an interesting point of comparison to customer satisfaction with UK online retail.

The list of retailers was selected based on the IMRG Experian Hitwise Hot 100 Retailer list.

The Index represents nearly 10,000 customer surveys which were collected via an online panel with more than 700,000 online consumers provided by Research Now from the 22nd November through to the 11th December from shoppers who had visited at least one the top 40 retail websites within the previous two weeks or travel websites within the last six months.

About ForeSee
As a pioneer in customer experience analytics, ForeSee continuously measures satisfaction across customer touch points and delivers critical insights on where to prioritise 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 optimising the efforts that will achieve business and brand objectives. The result is better business for companies and a better experience for consumers. Visit www.foresee.com for customer experience solutions and original research.

Published on: 10:00AM on 21st December 2011