As Holiday Shopping Season Nears, Online Shoppers Rely on Price and Past Experiences When Selecting an Online Retailer

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Amazon.com Ranks Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Online General Merchandise Retailers

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 15 November 2012 — When shopping online, consumers shop for the best price and rely on previous personal experience with a retailer before making a purchase decision, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Online General Merchandise Retailer Satisfaction ReportSM released today.

The report examines satisfaction with online merchandise retailers by consumers who have completed an online, general merchandise purchase in the past 12 months. Customer satisfaction is measured across seven factors (in order of importance): online store service and delivery; in-stock availability of merchandise; competitiveness of pricing; website/online store; usefulness of information; variety of merchandise offered; and contact with customer service.  The relative importance of customer service is diminished given that only 16 percent of the respondents contacted customer service.  Among those that contacted customer service, it was the most important factor.

When making an online purchase decision, 79 percent of consumers indicate they select a retailer based on price, followed by past experience with the brand (53%) and brand reputation (29%).

"Rewards programs and recommendations from friends, family or colleagues are the least-cited reasons for selecting an online retailer, indicating that they do not carry as much weight in the customer's purchase decision as other reasons do," said Sara Wong Hilton, director at J.D. Power and Associates. "Online shoppers are really looking for the best deal and will, in most cases, visit multiple online retailers before making their purchase."

The report finds that, on an annual basis, consumers visit online retailer websites an average of 48 times and make an average of eight purchases. The highest-performing online retailers receive more visits annually than the industry average. This may indicate that consumers use these online retailer websites as a benchmark, or a starting point, for shopping and comparing the desired products across multiple sites before completing their purchase, said Hilton.

One in 10 consumers experiences a problem with shipments of their orders; however, online retailers are highly focused on resolving issues, as 89 percent of consumers say their problem was resolved to their satisfaction. Online retailers' efforts to ensure problem resolution may drive higher rates of customer loyalty and advocacy, as evidenced by 97 percent of consumers indicating they "definitely will" or "probably will" purchase online from the same retailer in the future, and 95 percent indicating they "definitely will" or "probably will" recommend the online retailer to a friend, relative or colleague in the future.

Online General Merchandise Satisfaction Rankings

Amazon.com ranks highest among online general merchandise retailers with a score of 865 (on a 1,000-point scale) and performs particularly well in six of the seven factors. Overstock.com ranks second with a score of 847.

J.D. Power and Associates offers the following tips to online general merchandise consumers:

  • When shopping for merchandise online, it's a good idea to visit several different retailers' websites and compare prices. Make sure you're comparing the same product on each site (e.g., for electronics, the same model number), and be sure to factor in any shipping costs, special handling fees, or taxes to know the actual total cost of your purchase.
  • Many online retailers have loyalty or rewards programs that offer significant savings, special incentives or rebates for consumers who frequently shop those sites.
  • Many online retailers provide free shipping, or a reduced or flat rate fee, on orders that reach a specified dollar threshold. This is an especially attractive benefit, as shipping costs add up quickly, depending on the physical size of the merchandise, total price, and how quickly you want the item(s) delivered. However, be mindful that you may end up spending more than you originally intended simply to qualify for free shipping.
  • Before buying, check the retailer's return policy. Some retailers only accept returns within a certain number of days following the purchase, while others may charge a restocking fee, which usually is a percentage of the original purchase price.

The J.D. Power 2012 Online General Merchandise Retailer Satisfaction Report is based on responses from 2,041 consumers who made an online purchase from a general merchandise retailer in the past 12 months.  Online general merchandise retailers are defined as online retailers that sell a wide variety of new merchandise, including but not limited to home goods, automotive goods, jewelry and accessories, apparel, and shoes. Invitations to participate in the online survey were sent via email to online panelists in October and November 2012.  J.D. Power and Associates received completed questionnaires through November 5, 2012.

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, Web intelligence and customer satisfaction.  The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually.  For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies

McGraw-Hill announced on September 12, 2011, its intention to separate into two companies: McGraw-Hill Financial, a leading provider of content and analytics to global financial markets, and McGraw-Hill Education, a leading education company focused on digital learning and education services worldwide. McGraw-Hill Financial's leading brands include Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Dow Jones Indices, J.D. Power and Associates and Platts, a leader in commodities information. With sales of $6.2 billion in 2011, the Corporation has approximately 23,000 employees across more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com/.

Media Relations Contacts:

John Tews; J.D. Power and Associates; Troy, Mich.; (248) 680-6218; media.relations@jdpa.com
Syvetril Perryman; J.D. Power and Associates; Westlake Village, Calif.; (805) 418-8103; media.relations@jdpa.com

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No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates. www.jdpower.com/corporate

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Media Contacts

Troy, Michigan
(248) 680-6218
Westlake Village, California
(805) 418-8103