Study: Net retailers unhappy with shopping experiences

Online retailers are none too happy about their own Internet shopping experiences, according to research by online customer satisfaction firm ForeSee Results.

In fact, they barely give themselves passing grades, according to the survey, which was conducted by Ann Arbor, Mich.-based ForeSee and InternetRetailer magazine.

The report, released Tuesday, suggests that e-retailing will continue to get more competitive because the insiders want the online shopping experience to get better. "Investors and customers should be happy that these insiders are so hard on themselves," ForeSee Results CEO Larry Freed in a statement. "It means they're not taking their success for granted and aren't just sitting back and enjoying their accomplishments."

The survey and analysis were conducted using the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) technology, which offers comparisons to the University of Michigan's ACSI reports on customer satisfaction among American consumers.

According to the report, the 368 insiders surveyed rated themselves much lower than their customers do. But there was some good news.

The e-retailers gave themselves a low passing score of 63 (on a scale of 0-100) this year, up from last year's failing grade of 58.

Respondents this year said improvements in Web site image and account setup would make the biggest difference to online shoppers. According to ForeSee, the image evaluation includes whether a Web site demonstrates that it values customers and offers certain aspects of trust.

At the same time, the insiders aren't really concerned about some issues that often get a lot of attention, including content, Web site look and feel and product information. Those had the lowest impact on improving overall satisfaction. "The insiders seem to be saying, Enough already with constantly tinkering with some of the most obvious and tangible things site developers do, like improve the look and feel," said Freed.

Privacy, another issue that gets lots of attention, is rated poorly by the insiders but has little impact on their satisfaction, attitudes that mirror those of general consumers, according to ForeSee's research.

Online ordering, browsing and general functionality are good, but could be better, the insiders said. And, according to the survey, while insiders know they should be doing a better job of satisfying customers, they don't think they have the tools needed to determine whether customers are satisfied and how to build customer satisfaction.

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Linda Rosencrance

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