Online Retailers Ranked By How They Treat Customers

Discussion
Oct 13, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


A new survey says online retailers have a long way to go to demonstrate the proper amount of R-E-S-P-E-C-T for their shoppers.


According to The Customer Respect Group’s (TCRG) Third Quarter 2005 Online Customer Respect Study of Retailers, only two retailers, Payless Shoe Stores and CVS, achieve a rating of excellent from shoppers.


One of the biggest areas of concern that customers have with online retailers is the collection and sharing of personal information. Forty-five percent of the 53 retailers graded in the report share data with business partners and third parties without receiving permission of the customer.


Terry Golesworthy, president of The Customer Respect Group, said in a released statement: “The online retail market was $87.5 billion in 2004, so the stakes are high. With poor privacy policies in place, and those policies becoming more openly discussed, some companies will find it harder to obtain accurate data and get permission to market back to customers. In short, they will lose the customer’s trust. This will clearly affect online revenues.”


TCRG’s release does mention that there are bright points in online retail’s performance. “Companies are becoming more transparent and open about their policies and practices, making it easier to make choices.” Tower Records was rated “perfect” in this area while Blockbuster, dvd-empire and Wal-Mart were given an “excellent” rating.


Safeway was among those that ranked near the bottom of TCRG’s list. On a one to 10 scale, the company’s online grocery service received a 4.4 rating.


Teena Massingill, a spokesperson for Safeway, took issue with TCRG. “We have our own customer satisfaction measures, and we survey our online delivery customers about their experience. In these measures, our customer satisfaction rating is always in the 90th percentile or above,” she told the Chicago Sun-Times.


Albertsons and Peapod, two other online grocery business operators, scored 7.4 and 7.2 percent respectively.


The top 10 retailers as rated by TCRG were:


  1. Payless Shoe Source

  2. CVS Corporation

  3. L.L. Bean

  4. Liz Claiborne, Inc.

  5. Blockbuster

  6. dvd-empire

  7. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

  8. Nike

  9. Amazon.com

  10. Barnes & Noble

Moderator’s Comment: Where do you believe are the greatest areas for potential improvement in the shopping experience and customer relationship management
aspects of online retailing? What companies make up your top 10 list of those that demonstrate respect for their shoppers?

George Anderson – Moderator

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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10 Comments on "Online Retailers Ranked By How They Treat Customers"


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David Livingston
Guest
15 years 4 months ago

Nearly all the banks and stockbrokers have great sites. There is just no way they want to turn off customers. Retailers and newspapers are the worst, often trying to be cute by adding too many graphics that slow down even the high speed hookups.

Insurance companies, who don’t want you making claims or asking too many questions, like to run you in circles. Hotels and airlines are getting better, except some that log you off if you remain idle for a few minutes. This is irritating when you have 3 or 4 airline sites up at the same time and your are comparing prices. It is also irritating to be asked market research questions when you check out.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
15 years 4 months ago

Intelligent, informed, helpful, 24/7 personal contact is the single best key to successful online shopping sites. I manage a couple and shop at several more, and that’s my observation.

Too many website marketers approach their businesses with the idea that everything can be automated, thus saving mucho dinero on service personnel. Wrong, wrong, wrong. FAQ (by the way, it’s not FAQs or FAQ’s), no matter how well written, intuitive, and updated, cannot do the job. Research shows that A SIGNIFICANT PERCENTAGE OF US PROCESS INFORMATION THROUGH OUR EARS RATHER THAN THROUGH OUR EYES. (Was I yelling? Sorry.) I get phone inquiries requesting the most basic information about our products, which is provided in great-big-ol’ letters on our homepage. Shopping still has not become the cold, clinical, remote process that many online marketers wish it were.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 4 months ago
My vote is also for Tom’s list – excellent and right on target. I have found over the past several years (and apologies to those who persist in thinking me inately anti-American, which I swear I am not) that American sites and retailers are much less user friendly than British based ones. Amazon is the perfect example – I have absolutely no problems placing orders over here but find the American site a minefield to navigate. It is frequently less than 24 hours between placing an order and accepting delivery. One specific, major, gripe is that many US sites do not recognise credit cards from non-US banks so that even if I want a product delivered in the US, I am unable to pay for it. Another is the failure to recognise Alaska as part of the US AND not to say so in the terms and conditions or delivery data. More times than I can count, I have gone through the whole selection and ordering procedure only to get into an interminable loop before… Read more »
M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
15 years 4 months ago

FYI Bern, all major U.S. credit card processors recommend that their clients reject purchases from foreign credit cards because such a disproportionately high number of them are fraudulent. I receive credit card business from several countries, and have found this precaution to be a good one.

Tom Zatina
Guest
Tom Zatina
15 years 4 months ago

I suggest the following as a few of the opportunities for improvement:

Ease of site navigation and search

Ease of inspecting close up photo of product and labels/details

Ease of check out

Easy confirmation of purchase

Ease of tracking of shipment

Ease of returning merchandise

Easy access to customer service person that can communicate clearly and make decisions

Confidentiality

I have had good experiences with Amazon, TGW, LLBean, Lands’ End, and eBay.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
15 years 4 months ago

The top ten list suggested by Tom Zatina is great. I agree. It’s difficult to say which is the most irritating offender when not followed because they are all important for a good online experience. Whichever one or ones that are absent on a website are the most important for that site at that time, whether it is a slow loading page, a glitch in the ordering process, no way to track the purchase later, or the inability to find a phone number to a helpful, live person when there is a problem. Whatever is missing from the list creates an unpleasant experience, just as whatever happens as a glitch in delivering the right product to the right consumer at the right time results in problem order.

Warren Thayer
Guest
15 years 4 months ago
My biggest gripe: a problem with the transaction while you’re in the middle of it. Something like the system won’t accept your order, or won’t send it to the right address, or won’t let you check out. Then, try to find a solution! The Frequently Asked Questions section you always get directed to never have your problem listed. God forbid you get a phone number to speak with a real person. And if you e-mail them, you get a form letter back in 24-48 hours, thanking you for your business, telling you how important it is to keep customers satisfied, and then some illiterate drivel that doesn’t even approach, in the vaguest way, answering your problem. On the rare occasion you can get a person on the phone, they don’t know squat. Except, for the most part, the people in India. I think more companies should outsource this part of the business to India. I find their accents sometimes hard to understand, but they are polite and seem to have a knack for knowing the… Read more »
Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 4 months ago

Will the highly rated retailers have the guts to post their ratings versus their competitors? Do you think that major retailers would earn more customers if they posted a “No Spyware” pledge on their home pages? It’s too bad that most major retailers aren’t very brave. There are some sites I’ve visited (once) with so much spyware that I can sense my computer slowing down immediately. People who surf the Internet are installing spyware blockers and spyware erasers more and more. Info sharing and spyware are not identical, but they’re both insulting, intrusive, and potentially destructive.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
15 years 4 months ago

My biggest gripe with on-line retailers and big box retailers are the rebate scams that seem to pervade electronics and computer marketing. Circuit City seems to have taken some steps to ease the problems and scams. However, it would seem that as many as 25% of the rebate offers are scams. No matter how hard you work to comply with the “rules” your rebate is denied due to the fact that you neglected to cross a T in sub paragraph 6A. A law should be passed requiring all rebates to be paid within 10 days of receipt and that all that can be required is completion of a SIMPLE rebate form and a COPY of the sales receipt. The major retailers would better serve their customers if they no longer accepted rebate promotions form manufacturers. The “evil empire (Wal-Mart)” doesn’t play this game! Is there a message here?

Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
15 years 4 months ago

Give me a real person to talk to for questions; and I don’t care if this person is in China, India, or Timbuktu! Hmmmmmmmmmm

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