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Online shopping wins high marks

E-commerce sites satisfied their customers more than traditional retail stores did in 2011, a survey finds.

By Giselle Smith Feb 21, 2012 6:13PM

How was your experience the last time you purchased something on an e-commerce site? If you're like most customers, you were relatively satisfied -- or at least that's the conclusion of the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index e-commerce report.


Customer satisfaction in the online retail category scored 81 on a 100-point scale in the fourth quarter of 2011, a 1.3% increase from the previous year, according to a news release from the ACSI. Overall, traditional retail scored 76.1.


The index measures customer evaluations of 225 companies in 47 U.S. industries, USA Today reported. Each company is rated on a 100-point scale, and a score close to 80 is considered solid, report author Larry Freed of the consulting firm ForeSee told USA Today.


The top-scoring online retailer was Amazon, with a score of 86. Top-scoring companies in traditional retail included Nordstrom (84) in the department and discount store category, Costco (83) in specialty retail stores, and Publix (84) in supermarkets.

Runners-up in the online retail category were Newegg (85), Overstock (83) and eBay (81).


In the online travel category, Travelocity earned the highest marks from customers, scoring 79. Expedia, which topped the survey last year, dropped 2.5% to 77, and both Priceline and Orbitz scored 76.


The travel category as a whole left customers a little less satisfied, on average, than other e-commerce sites, USA Today reported:

Online travel agencies' score was slightly lower than other e-commerce retailers, like Amazon and Newegg. But stiff competition and sluggish demand have pushed travel agencies to introduce more innovations and aggregate better deals for customers whose appetite for bargains grow unabated every year, says Douglas Quinby of PhoCusWright, a travel technology research firm.

Overall e-commerce sales for 2011 were $194.3 billion, a 16% increase from 2010, USA Today said.


Online brokerages fared less well in the survey, with customer satisfaction falling 2.6% to 76 for the category overall. Most satisfying to customers were Fidelity, Charles Schwab and E-Trade Financial, all of which scored 79.


Also notable in the survey was the 14% drop in consumer satisfaction reported for Netflix, which saw its score fall from 86 to 74 for 2011.


Assuming you were not among the 70,000 customers annually surveyed by ACSI, what do you think? Are you generally satisfied with your e-commerce transactions?


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