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ForeSee On Cyber Monday: Sales Booming, But Customers Less Satisfied

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ANN ARBOR — The customer experience analytics firm ForeSee Wednesday released its annual analysis of Cyber Monday customer satisfaction suggesting that some online shoppers may not be as satisfied with the holiday shopping season as retailers likely are.

ComScore reported that compared to last year, online commerce was up 26 percent on Black Friday and 22 percent on Cyber Monday, and the National Retail Federation is reporting that sales over the four-day holiday weekend increased 16 percent over last year.

But while sales are up, Web site browser satisfaction is down. A browser is defined as anyone shopping on a retail Web site, whether or not they completed a purchase. Browser satisfaction this Cyber Monday (72.7 on the study’s 100-point scale) is lower this year than it was over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend (73.3), lower than it was last year on Cyber Monday (73.1), and notably lower than it was on Cyber Monday in 2008 (75.9).

In fact, satisfaction with online shopping over the holiday weekend and on Cyber Monday was at its lowest point in five years (the largest dip occurred between 2008 and 2009, and satisfaction has failed to rebound).

“So far, we know that the holiday season has been a success for the retailers in terms of sales, but that is clearly not the whole picture,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee. “Our research tells us that buyers are generally as satisfied this year as they were last year, but that browsers overall are somewhat less satisfied this year because more shoppers couldn’t find what they were looking for, experienced site performance issues, or were dissatisfied with prices.”

Potential customers are extremely important during the holiday season because they represent not only current revenue but tremendous future potential for revenue and loyalty.

Key findings included:

* Retail Web site satisfaction for browsers (the group who shopped on a retail Web site, whether or not they purchased) on Cyber Monday this year (72.7 on the study’s 100-point scale) is slightly lower than it was over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
* Retail Web site satisfaction for buyers is about the same this year as it was last year. Shoppers appear to be more price sensitive on Cyber Monday than they were over the holiday weekend, suggesting that they have high expectations for deals. Shoppers have shown signs of greater price sensitivity this year since early November.
* Of the 159 retail Web sites in the ForeSee benchmark, 40 (one-quarter) scored 80 or higher, generally considered the threshold for excellence using this methodology. Last year, one-third of all retailers in the benchmark scored above 80. This polarization of scores may indicate that, as customer expectations increase, some retailers are finding it harder to keep up.
* Web sites that sell apparel, accessories, and shoes are providing the most satisfying experience for holiday shoppers this year, while Web sites selling computers, electronics, and mobile phone accessories are providing the least satisfying experience. This could mean there may be bigger gains in apparel retail revenues than in revenues for a number of other product categories.

ForeSee uses a proprietary methodology that measures the customer experience and predicts how that experience impacts future sales, loyalty, and recommendations. ForeSee is also able to tell organizations which elements of the experience (merchandise, website navigation, prices, etc.) have the biggest impact on satisfaction with the customer experience, and therefore on sales and profitability. While today’s benchmark is focused on the Web channel, ForeSee measures all critical customer touch-points, including stores, contact centers, mobile apps, social media interactions, and more.

The ForeSee retail benchmark is made up of 159 individual Web sites, ranging from Fortune 100 retailers to smaller, regional retailers. Among the retail Web sites included in the benchmark are Ace Hardware, Bass Pro Shops, Belk, Cabela’s, Chef’s Catalog, Eddie Bauer, eBags, Gamefly, Harry and David, Helzberg Diamonds, Home Depot, Lego, Musician’s Friend, Panasonic, Samsung, Sears, Sephora, Sony, and StubHub.

ForeSee has been releasing a weekly online satisfaction benchmark during the holiday shopping season for six years. ForeSee collected nearly half a million satisfaction surveys from people who shopped on retail websites in November 2011. The data reported here also represents more than 60,000 surveys collected on Thanksgiving weekend, and more than 30,000 retail survey responses from Cyber Monday alone.

“In a struggling economy, it’s a zero-sum game where successful retailers have more to gain at the expense of retailers who don’t satisfy their customers,” said Freed. “The e-retailers who are doing well now and satisfying customers will be in the best position to capture market share from retailers that fail to meet customers’ increasingly high standards and expectations.”

More at www.ForeSeeResults.com.

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