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Jupiter Reports Holiday Online Shopping Complaints

By Karen Leonardi
Jan 19, 1999 12:00 AM PT

In a new report, Internet research firm Jupiter Communications indicates that online shoppers were less satisfied with their shopping experience during the holidays than they were six months ago. The Report also found that 44% of US online households shopped online during the November/December holiday season, spending about $3.14 billion (US$).

Jupiter Reports Holiday Online Shopping Complaints

For e-commerce merchants, there's good news and bad news in the report. The good news is the immense growth in the volume of orders being placed. Of the 2,300 shoppers surveyed, 74% indicated they were satisfied with their holiday online shopping. Obviously, some online retailers are getting it right, in terms of attracting new customers and serving their needs.

The bad news is that the number of satisfied shoppers decreased by 14%, when compared with results of an identical survey in June. Online stores stand to lose the shoppers they've fought hard to attract if they can't improve service and satisfaction. With a quarter of the survey respondents not satisfied, e-commerce merchants have their work cut out for them.

The Jupiter report warns that, "An alarmingly low 37% of online shoppers indicated they would spend more next holiday season, while 58% said they would spend the same and five percent said would spend less."

Too Many Promises, Too Many Shoppers

The research report, which was conducted in conjunction with NFO Interactive, attributes the lower satisfaction to the fact that retailers were unprepared to fulfill promises made to consumers during the holiday season, because of the tremendous growth in the number of online orders.

In addition, Jupiter indicated that online shoppers are now mass-market consumers that are far less forgiving of technical shortcomings than the early adopters who previously dominated online shopping.

Problems and Complaints

The top three reasons for dissatisfaction were:

15% cited Merchandise availability (or lack thereof) 14% cited Additional costs of shipping and handling 13% cited Slow Web site performance Survey Says... Focus on Service

The full research report, which was released on Monday to Jupiter's Strategic Planning Services (SPS) clients, states that, "Online retailers should resist the temptation to focus exclusively on growing market share and focus their efforts on customer service and retention."

Nicole Vanderbilt, senior analyst for Jupiter Communications, explains, "The combination of retailers that launched or relaunched their sites within weeks of the holiday season, coupled with the significant, unanticipated increase in traffic led many sites to underperform."

"Companies spent considerable dollars to acquire the customers that visited their sites. If they do not shift their efforts to alleviate technology issues and improve customer service in the coming months, they risk losing the customers they spent so much to acquire."

The survey involved a representative sampling of more than 2,300 online households. It was conducted in conjunction with NFO Interactive, a primary research company with headquarters in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Jupiter Communications is a new media research firm that focuses on how the Internet and other technologies are changing traditional consumer industries. The consultancy's Strategic Planning Services (SPS) deliver ongoing analysis, primary data, and market projections. Founded in 1986, Jupiter Communications, LLC, is an independent, privately held firm with offices in New York City and London, England.


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