ANN ARBOR, Mich.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Answers Corporation, a premier provider of cloud-based voice of customer solutions and owner of the leading Internet brand Answers.com, today announced the release of The AnswersTM Experience Index (AXI): 2014 U.S. Retail Edition, a study of multichannel retail touch points based on 40,000 consumer surveys gathered for the top 100 retail websites, top 30 retail chain stores and top 30 mobile experiences over the course of this year’s holiday shopping season.
For a decade, The Answers™ Experience Index (formerly called the ForeSee Experience Index) has been the definitive annual study of the current state of the retail customer experience. Employing the same industry-tested ForeSee methodology Answers applies to measure customer and employee satisfaction for clients, the AXI takes a broader view of the marketplace, measuring customer experience with the largest retailers in the United States, as recognized this year by Internet Retailer’s Top 500 web and mobile commerce sites and NRF Stores Top 100 Retailers. An offering within Answers' integrated suite of enterprise cloud solutions, ForeSee is a pioneer and global leader in technology-driven experience analytics.
HIGHLIGHTS: THE ANSWERS™ EXPERIENCE INDEX: 2014 U.S. RETAIL REPORT
Customer satisfaction is scored on a 100-point scale; 80 is generally considered the threshold for excellence at which an organization meets and exceeds customer expectations.
Amazon Drops, No Longer Alone at the Top
The average customer satisfaction score for retail websites fell two points from 79 to 77. The 2014 AXI reveals that Amazon, the undisputed king of online customer satisfaction since the first report in 2005, slipped to a score of 83, tying with QVC for the highest score among the top 100 e-commerce sites measured. Their 83 score marks a five-point decline for Amazon compared to their high score of 88 posted in 2011-2013. Amazon’s drop can be partly attributed to scoring much lower on customers’ assessments of Amazon’s price competitiveness. QVC held steady year over year to gain a share of the top ranking. They were closely followed by a cluster of strong retail brands who scored 82: Avon, L.L. Bean and Netflix. Notably absent from the leaderboard is Apple, which dipped two points to 80 in this year’s customer satisfaction rating.
The Amazon mobile experience also suffered. Last year Amazon was five points ahead of any other mobile website or application. In 2014, Amazon scored 83, a mere one point above Fanatics and L.L. Bean in mobile website and application satisfaction, followed by Newegg, QVC and Sony Store Online at 82.
“It’s a watershed year for U.S. holiday retail, starting with Amazon’s dramatic drop in customer satisfaction,” said Jim Yang, Senior Vice President of Products, Marketing and Services for Answers Cloud Services. “This year’s AXI data demonstrates the difficulty of staying ahead in an increasingly complex multichannel shopping world. It’s not that Amazon is no longer exceptional, because it clearly is. Rather, Amazon’s inability to deliver adequately against its customers’ expectations, particularly when it comes to product pricing, has opened the door for other retail brands this year. In the face of savvier consumers, retailers have to take a more disciplined approach to monitoring and improving customer satisfaction or else find themselves struggling to remain relevant.”
More Than Ever, Shoppers Are Mobilizing
Customer satisfaction with mobile shopping experiences overall held steady at 79 in 2014. Maintaining status quo should be considered a red flag for retailers. Mobile shoppers are getting far more comfortable using smartphones for research and transactions. Mobile shoppers were far more likely to use their phones to research products this holiday shopping season (74 percent) compared to 2013 (55 percent), and more likely to make a purchase through their phone this year (44 percent) than last (25 percent). Retailers are only going to find themselves shortchanged if the needs of these “mobile-enabled” consumers aren’t adequately satisfied.
Mobile payments, however, are not quite ready for takeoff. More than 60 percent of shoppers said they will not use a mobile payment service like Google Wallet or Apple Pay to purchase items in a store. The 40 percent who said they might use such a service were twice as likely to choose Google over Apple.
Multichannel Shoppers Rule the Day
AXI data corroborates a highly observed marketplace trend—the significant jump in multichannel shopping and showrooming (i.e., using a mobile phone to research or purchase while in the store). This year, 68 percent of store purchasers said they visited the store’s website on their phone while in the store, compared to just 55 percent last year. Having rich product content on mobile sites is critical for retail chain stores, since 46 percent of showroomers are buying in-store anyway. Generally, store purchasers were far more likely to begin their research online (50 percent) compared to last year (35 percent), including visiting that store’s website and competitors’ websites.
Multichannel shoppers are not just more active shoppers; they’re generally more satisfied (81) than their single-channel (77) brethren, making them ultimately more valuable to retailers. Specifically, shoppers who purchased in a store but accessed multiple channels to research that purchase are more likely in the future to do the things that are critical to retailers’ success: make another purchase and recommend the retailer to others.
Retail Chain Stores Can Still Satisfy
Alarmist notions suggest that e-commerce is rendering brick-and-mortar stores irrelevant, but in reality, in-store purchases still account for the vast majority of retail transactions. Physical storefronts are, in fact, enabling omnichannel consumption in a big way, thanks to innovations like “buy online/pick-up in store” and in-store mobile checkouts. The AXI reveals that 37 percent of customers who made an in-store purchase have purchased on their phones (compared to 31 percent in 2013), and 23 percent have used the retailer’s app (compared to 21 percent in 2013).
Yet despite the development of digital conveniences, shopper experience in retail chain stores fail to impress, dropping a point to 78 in 2014. Answers’ measurement methodology shows that the most important investment priority for retail chain stores is to improve their merchandise (appeal, variety and availability of product) as 72 percent of the retailers measured had merchandise as the most powerful satisfaction driver for their consumers. Another top priority for many retailers is the service quality from store personnel.
This holiday season, Barnes & Noble surpassed Apple to take the top spot with a score of 83. Apple and Saks Fifth Avenue follow at 82, and Advance Auto Parts and Ann Taylor round out the top five with an 81. Walmart takes last place with a 71, declining from last year’s score of 73.
About The AnswersTM Experience Index (AXI): 2014 U.S. Retail Edition
The AnswersTM Experience Index (AXI): 2014 U.S. Retail Edition focuses on three key customer touch points: retail chain stores, e-commerce websites and mobile experiences. Answers fielded more than 40,000 surveys between October 26 and December 15, 2014, then analyzed the data using the patented ForeSee methodology, an advanced cause-and-effect statistical engine that empower organizations to make strategic investments with confidence. The full report is available for download from http://answers.com/axi.
About Answers Corporation
Answers’ mission is to empower consumers, brands and organizations by connecting them with the information they need to make more-informed decisions. The Answers Voice of the Customer Platform leverages the sizable reach of the top-10 Internet brand Answers.com (source: Quantcast), along with leading cloud-based solutions from ForeSee, Webcollage and ResellerRatings, to enable businesses and organizations to engage with customers at every interaction point, drive investment decisions from customer insights and deliver content that powers the customer experience. Answers is headquartered in St. Louis with offices in Ann Arbor, New York City, Silicon Valley, Cleveland, London, Vancouver and Tel Aviv. For Answers, visit http://www.answers.com.
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