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Amazon, Netflix top holiday e-retailer satisfaction

Not so many years ago online shopping experiences were sometimes akin to a newly-discovered tenth ring of Hell, but ForeSee’s E-Retail Satisfaction Index (PDF, registration required) for the 2010 holiday season seems to indicate online shopping has come of age: although overall satisfaction dropped one point to 78 from 79 last year, fully 14 major companies managed scores above 80 points, which ForeSee characterizes as the “threshold for excellence.” Leading the way: and Netflix, both of which managed satisfaction scores of 86.

“In a recovering economy, a lot of us assume that declining satisfaction is a result of frustration with prices. Our research shows that is not always the case, and that it varies drastically from company to company,” said ForeSee Results CEO Larry Freed, in a statement.

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As a case in point, ForeSee takes a look at versus rival sites like and although consumers broadly see Apple products as more expensive than their rivals, Apple scores a satisfaction rating of 82 compared to a 78 for HP and a 76 for Dell owing mainly to the functionality of the Apple Web site.

ForeSee also looked at Amazon versus Wal-mart—which are generally matched for pricing—and found Amazon earned its 86 online customer satisfaction score on the basis of merchandise, content, and Web site functionality. Nonetheless, Walmart did manage to stay in the “excellent” category this year with a store of 80—and Amazon was the only one of the top ten players to see a drop in satisfaction scores this year: it slipped from 87 to 86.

However, price does help: in comparing Netflix’s satisfaction score of 86 to Blockbuster’s 76, ForeSee notes that while BlockBuster is a multi-channel retailers, Netflix beat Blockbuster in both pricing and Web site functionality, leading to higher online customer satisfaction.

According to ForeSee, the companies earning a score of 80 or more for the 2010 holiday season are as follows:

  • Amazon: 86 (-1, tied with Netflix)
  • Netflix: 86 (tied with Amazon)
  • QVC: 84 (+3)
  • Avon: 83 (+2)
  • L.L. Bean: 83 (+3)
  • Apple: 82
  • Newegg: 82
  • eBay: 80
  • Musician’s Friend: 80
  • VistaPrint: 80
  • Walmart: 80
  • Williams-Sonoma: 80

The ForeSee consumer satisfaction reports use the methodology developed at the University of Michigan and used by the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, an on-going study that analyzes customer satisfaction across a broad range of businesses and industry (as well as government services). Higher scores indicate greater reported customer satisfaction, but the numbers don’t represent any particular unit: a score of 80 isn’t an “80 percent” satisfaction rating.

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