We just finished tallying the results for our “2004 Online Retail Study for Customer Focused Excellence.” The study attempts to benchmark retailer’s Web sites using the least subjective criteria possible, such as payment option availability, shipping time estimates, length and ease of checkout processes, product descriptions, image views, and so on. The study doesn’t measure the entire user experience and purposely ignores some of e-tail sites’ more subjective attributes, such as price points, ease of locating products, and brand strength.
Mystery shoppers were instructed to identify a product for purchase. Then, they searched and scored each site for 45 data points in 13 categories. Each data point was given a weighted score, for a total of 100 points. The more data points a site scored, the higher its customer-focused excellence rating.
I have to confess some shock at this year’s findings. With the exception of Amazon.com, there were no repeat winners among the top 12 retailers. Consumer electronics seller Crutchfield.com is perched atop the 2004 list with an 80 percent customer-focused excellence score. Last year’s top performer, Lands’ End, didn’t even rank in the top 12 this year; its score dipped from 81 percent in 2003 to 65 percent.