Online shoppers unhappy with old-line retailers

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Netflix and Amazon were among the best performing online retailers this holiday season, a study of the top 40 retail websites in 2005 has shown.

The survey, conducted by ForeSee Results and FGI research, showed that customer satisfaction with nearly all of the sites dropped from levels it was at in spring 2005.

Using a scoring system from 40 to 100, average consumer satisfaction with the retail sites dropped from 76.7 in the spring to 73.5 during the holiday season.

Netflix, Amazon, LL Bean and QVC were the top-scoring sites, each with scores of 80 or above.

The sites with the lowest scores were CompUSA.com, Kmart and Sears, each with scores below 70.

The biggest percentage drops from spring to the holidays were seen by ToysRUs.com, OldNavy.com, Sears.com and JCPenny.com, all of which experienced at least 8-percent falls.

Larry S. Freed, president and chief executive officer of ForeSee Results, said companies that specialize in online sales have different challenges than other firms.

"Netflix doesn't surprise me at all. But maybe they don't have the challenges to deal with during the holiday season, as do other retailers," he said. "I believe that online shopper confidence is going up. This year, you've seen it go down (from spring) very, very slightly. They've done a better job this season."

Security experts warned shoppers to be on the lookout for scams during the holiday season, which, they said, presents ample opportunity for online fraudsters.

One in four U.S. consumers said they would not shop online during the holiday season due to internet security concerns, according to a survey the Business Software Alliance conducted last year.

Almost all (96 percent) of online consumers surveyed in that 2005 poll believed it was important to protect themselves online.

Freed said the holidays are another opportunity for companies to make customers comfortable with their stores – whether online or in person.

"Companies have two opportunities. The first is to generate revenue. The second is to win customers over and turn them into loyal customers," he said. "People want to go online and have a good experience, just like anywhere else."

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