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Amazon, Netflix Top Retail Sites This Holiday Season

Kim Hart

Your email inbox has surely been flooded with messages about super sales happening at nearly every online retailer's Web site. All sale merchandise 30 percent off! All Holiday Inventory Must Go! Best Deals on the Internet!

But which e-commerce sites made your holiday shopping frenzy easy? Which ones made you want to chuck your laptop into the Christmas tree?

ForeSee Results and FGI Research, along with the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index, today released its annual Top 40 Online Retail Satisfaction Index which ranks the top retail Web sites and how successful they are at encouraging loyalty and, most importantly, getting shoppers to hand over their credit card numbers.

The study found that a highly satisfied online shopper is 73 percent more likely to purchase online, 38 percent more likely to purchase offline, 75 percent more likely to recommend than is a dissatisfied website shopper. The retailers are ranked using a 100-point scale.

"In a recession, knowing that improving customer satisfaction with your website can engender that kind of loyalty and purchase intent is like money in the bank," said Larry Freed, President and CEO of ForeSee Results. "But too many e-retailers are ignoring this crucial metric, and it shows in the results of our study. Only two of the 40 measured e-tailers scored above 80, and more than a quarter scored 70 or below. Nearly 40 percent saw satisfaction drop year-over-year. That's just not playing to win in this economy."

For the second year in a row, Amazon and Netflix came out on top. QVC placed third. Amazon last week reported that this year was its "best ever" holiday shopping season.

Only 10 websites improved online shopper satisfaction since last holiday shopping season, and the most improved are and HP's online store. Other top gainers include Staples and

Forty percent of the measured sites saw satisfaction decline year-over year. The largest declines were for Home Shopping Network and Gap.

Prices are a key element of satisfaction for many individual websites, but overall, improvements to merchandise and functionality will have a greater return on investment, Freed said.

"Consumers were expecting big discounts this season, and price was a pretty important factor, but it's not the be-all, end-all for satisfaction, even in a recession" he said. "It's much smarter for the long term to improve satisfaction through web experience improvements than erode brand equity through price cuts. The travails of Detroit's Big Three automakers illustrate that point profoundly."

Here were the top 10 e-commerce sites for the 2008 holiday season:

-- (Barnes & Noble)

The 5 lowest scorers were: (Home Shopping Network)

By Kim Hart  |  December 30, 2008; 12:30 PM ET  | Category:  Kim Hart
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