RETAILWIRE DISCUSSION TOPIC
Consumers Find Greater Satisfaction Online – 2/20/08
When it comes to satisfying customers, it appears as though online retailers have the edge, hands down, on brick-and-mortar operations.
The University of Michigan’s (UM) American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) for the fourth quarter of 2007 found that e-tailers scored an 83 on a scale of 100 compared to an overall rating of 71 for store operators.
Amazon.com topped the list of online retailers in the UM Index with a score of 88 followed by Newegg (87), Netflix (84), eBay (81) and Overstock.com (80). Newegg, Netflix and Overstock.com were included in the ACSI for the first time.
Among the physical store operators ranked in the UM study were Barnes & Noble (83), Publix (82), Borders (81), Costco (81), Nordstrom (80), Kohl’s (79), Dollar General (78), Walgreen (78), Office Depot (78), Target (77), J.C. Penney (77), CVS (77), Staples (77), Sam’s Club (77), Office Max (76), The Gap (75), Lowe’s (75), Kroger (75), TJX Companies (74), Supervalu (74), Best Buy (74), Rite Aid (73), Whole Foods (73), Sears Holdings including Kmart (72), Safeway (72), Circuit City (71), Winn-Dixie (71), Wal-Mart (68) and Home Depot (67).
The current economic environment makes it all the more important for retailers, regardless of channel, to satisfy consumers, according to Claes Fornell, director, National Quality Research Center, Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
Discussion questions: Why do consumers give higher satisfaction ratings to online merchants than brick-and-mortar retailers? Is there anything stores can borrow from websites to improve the consumer experience?
It’s all about expectations. Our expectations for the experience online are different than the in-store experience. As long as a website is easy to navigate, has the product we want, and makes it easy to buy – we’re happy. Most sites do a reasonable job meeting these expectations. On the other hand, the in-store experience expectations get into an array of sensory issues: temperature, lighting, smells, music, and the social expectations for the humans we are going to interact with. It is much more complicated to meet and exceed customer expectations in a fully sensory environment.
Physical store retailers must pay attention to all these sensory aspects and must ensure they have well-paid, engaged, passionate sales associates ready to exceed the customers’ social expectations.
Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist
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