Acyber monday ForeSee: Online Shoppers More Satisfied Early This Holiday Seasonnalysis released Wednesday from Ann Arbor-based ForeSee Results suggests that retailers have reason to be cautiously optimistic about the upcoming holiday season.

Customer satisfaction with online retailers on Cyber Monday was the same this year as last year, 73.1 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s  100-point scale. 

However, satisfaction throughout the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday week and weekend was higher this year than in 2009, which bodes well for retailers hoping to see increasing holiday revenues.

Customer satisfaction with online retail Thanksgiving week was 73.7. That’s up marginally from 73.5 in 2009.

For Thanksgiving weekend, it was 73.4, up from 73.2 in 2009. And for Cyber Monday alone, it was 73.1, unchanged from 2009.
ForeSee Results uses the proprietary methodology of the ACSI, which has a proven link to future spending and revenues. In fact, a one-point increase in satisfaction for a top retailer in 2008 predicted an average revenue growth of 9 percent in 2009.

Today’s benchmark is the aggregate of more than 130 scores for individual retail Web sites, which ranged from 42 to 88. A score of 80 is generally considered the threshold for excellence. Forty of the 136 retail websites in the ForeSee Results benchmark qualify as “excellent” by this measure. Among the retail websites included in the benchmark are Ace Hardware, Bass Pro, Belk, Cabelas, Chef’s Catalog, Chicos, DSW, Eddie Bauer, eBags, Gamefly, Godiva, Harry and David, Helzberg Diamonds, Home Depot, LEGO, Musicians Friend, Panasonic, Samsung, ShopNFL, Sears, Sephora, and Sony Style.

“The great news for the one-third of retailers that are doing so well is that satisfied online shoppers are not only more likely to buy online, they’re also 47 percent more likely to buy offline,” said Kevin Ertell, vice president of retail strategy at ForeSee Results. “In a struggling economy, retailers providing a great customer experience have more to gain because they’ll be the best positioned to capture available market share when other retailers fail to meet customers’ increasingly high standards and expectations.”

ForeSee Results has been releasing a weekly online satisfaction benchmark during the holiday shopping season since 2006. ForeSee Results collected nearly half a million satisfaction surveys from people who shopped on retail websites in November. The data reported here also represents nearly 60,000 surveys collected on Thanksgiving weekend, and nearly 30,000 retail surveys on Cyber Monday alone.

“Higher satisfaction has a proven link to higher revenues,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results. “So while we’re always excited to see what’s already happened through the traffic and revenue numbers that come from Coremetrics, Nielsen, Hitwise, and Comscore, we’ve found retailer executives are also watching their own satisfaction scores quite closely this time of year to see what will happen next.”

In addition to providing an overall benchmark for online retailers during the holiday season, ForeSee Results has benchmarks for more than a dozen subcategories of retail (such as mass merchants, toys, gifts, sporting goods, and entertainment, among others), making it easier for retailers to assess their own performance relative to their peers.

Of ForeSee Results’ largest retail benchmarks, apparel and accessories retailers are clearly providing the most satisfying experience online, by a wide margin (more than four points higher than the average and 14 points higher than the lowest-scoring computers and electronics retailers).

Satisfaction with apparel and accessories Web sites was 77.3 for Thanksgiving week. For computers and electronics Web sites it was 63.6. For speciality retailers it was 74.1 Thanksgiving week.

For Thanksgiving weekend, customer satisfaction with apparel and accessories Web sites was 76.6. For computers and electronics Web sites it was 63.6. For specialty retailers it was 74.

For Cyber Monday alone, customer satisfaction with apparel and accessories Web sites was 77. Satisfaction witih computers and electronics Web sites was 64.6. For specialty retailers it was 73.6.

ForeSee Results measures several key elements of online satisfaction including navigation, price, merchandise, product browsing, and site performance. Satisfaction data analysis can identify for individual retailers which elements have the most impact on future purchase behavior so that retailers can prioritize enhancements to online marketing initiatives that will give them the biggest return on investment.

Other highlights of this year’s study include:

* Online shoppers are more satisfied with prices this year than they were last year.
* Site performance scores dipped on Cyber Monday, which is to be expected given the volume of traffic and resulting technical glitches that may occur.
* Online shoppers are more likely to purchase online this year than they were last year as a result of their Web site visit, but their likelihood to purchase offline after a website visit is on par with last year.
* On e-retail Web sites with superior satisfaction scores (over 80 on the study’s 100-point scale), customers report they are significantly more likely to purchase online and offline than are visitors to sites with subpar customer satisfaction (below 70).

:We’re eager to see how the trends emerge over the coming weeks,” added Freed. “But it seems that the online shopping season could be off to a pretty good start.”

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