Overall e-retail customer satisfaction has increased to 79% in May 2008, suggesting a continuing shift toward online shopping habits, according to the E-Customer Service Index (e-CSI) from the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), eDigitalResearch, and the Maximiles-operated online loyalty coalition iPoints.
The e-CSI was based on a survey sample from iPoints' 2 million members, and found that the biggest increases in e-customer satisfaction were in the following areas:
- Delivery (up from 79% in January to 81% in May 2008);
- Help on e-retailers' web sites (up from 76% to 78%);
- E-retail customer service contact (up from 73% to 75%).
Other small increases
Up by 1% point between January and May (to 84%) were e-customers who were happy with the range of products available online, those satisfied that online prices were competitive (79%), those pleased with the amount of information available on e-retailers' web sites (77%), and those happy with e-retail web site navigation and usability (81%).
However, e-customer satisfaction with the security of e-retailers' web sites remained static at 74%. According to Robert Barker, COO for Maximiles, "These figures show that e-consumers are becoming increasingly satisfied with all aspects the service provided by e-retailers, and the strong increase in satisfaction in e-retailer delivery and customer service were particularly pleasing to note."
A move to e-shopping?
With talk of the economy slowing down, inflation increasing, and overall consumer budget-tightening, the survey showed a clear increase in the number of consumers who are happy with the competitive prices, range of products available, and information about products provided online. This suggests that, in a challenging economic climate, there is a strong opportunity for e-retailers to drive their business forward, often at the expense of the High Street.
Supporting this idea, the e-CSI found that the numbers of consumers preferring to shop online rather than in-store had increased across almost all industry sectors and product categories. Out of a maximum score of 10 (with 10 meaning the customer always uses the internet for their purchases), those that purchase books, CDs, music, games, videos, DVDs, and software registered an average of 7.85 in May (up from 7.82 in January), while travel (including flights, holidays, and car hire) and tickets (for the cinema and other events) increased to 7.28 in May compared to 7.10 in January.
Non-traditional e-sales increase
Even those products that are not traditionally purchased online have recently seen an increase in sales. Consumers' preference to shop online for clothing, footwear and jewellery all increased from 4.06 in January to 4.25 in May, while food drink and household supplies rose from 3.88 to 3.94. At the same time, furniture, DIY and gardening grew from 4.30 to 4.34.
According to James Roper, CEO for IMRG, "It's particularly encouraging that non-traditional online purchases are increasingly being sourced online. I expect to see this increase continue as consumers become more comfortable buying these products online, especially as they become tempted to take advantage of the very competitive prices available online in an uncertain economic climate."