Press Releases

Mass Merchants Dominate the e-tailing group Customer Experience Index

For Immedate Release:
January 26, 2010

Nine Merchants Qualify as the e-tailing group Top Indexing Customer Experience Websites Despite an Overall Drop in Scores

In conjunction with their Annual Mystery Shopping Study the e-tailing group has released the 3rd Annual Customer Experience Index results, leveraging quantitative analysis to specifically understand how merchants stack-up against the e-tailing 100 websites, their category, and direct competition. Websites are scored on a 100-point scale where five key pages, merchandising, and customer service, the triple crown of any customer experience, are all factors.

“We believe that consumers expect merchants to deliver on all fronts,” explained Lauren Freedman, President of the e-tailing group. “It is clear from these results that mass merchants and top specialty players are heavily investing in the customer experience required to both sell and service the customer. One disappointment is that we had to drop the bar slightly to recognize more than five out of 100 merchants reviewed as in past years the top performing websites all attained a score of 80+. Of the nine sites identified, five also made the cut last year and deserve recognition for their vigilance: Sears, Amazon, Crutchfield, L.L.Bean, and Best Buy.”

Top Performing Merchants

The average score achieved in 4Q ’09 was 68.07 down slightly from 2008’s average of 68.44. The highest score, attained by Toys ‘R Us with an index 86.50, is a noteworthy increase of 16.89% over their index last year, and well above the Toys/Games average category score of 69.96.

TOP PERFORMING WEBSITES (Scoring out of a possible 100)
Score % +/-

09 vs. 08

4Q ‘09 4Q ‘08 4Q ‘07
Toys ‘R Us +16.89% 86.50 74.00 67.50
Sears 0.00% 86.25 86.25 71.00
Amazon +6.21% 85.50 80.50 76.00
HSN +4.52% 81.00 77.50 82.00
Target +1.59% 80.00 78.75 75.00
Crutchfield 0.00% 79.75 79.75 77.00
Zappos +28.74% 79.50 61.75 66.00
L.L.Bean -1.55% 79.25 80.50 68.50
Best Buy -1.55% 79.25 80.50 73.00
Average all sites -0.54% 68.07 68.44 67.90
Source: the e-tailing group Annual Mystery Shopping Study, 4Q 09, 08 & 07

Category Performance

The e-tailing group customer experience index was evaluated on a category basis for the fourteen product categories included in the e-tailing group Mystery Shopping Study. As charted, Mass Merchants have posted the highest score for three years running with continued improvement (79.50, 78.00; 75.13). Conversely year-over-year the Drugstore category has consistently garnered the lowest and relatively flat scores of 60.33, 59.56, and 60.50. The most improved index from last year was seen in Accessories/Shoes up 7.30% bolstered by an outstanding performance from Zappos, up 28.74% over 08. Department Stores saw the greatest decline, decreasing -5.21% on top of -7.44% in 4Q 08 which reflects many of the challenges this category faces at retail as well.

CATEGORY SCORES (Scoring out of a possible 100)
score % +/-

09 vs. 08

eg index


eg index


eg index


Mass Merchants +1.92% 79.50 78.00 75.13
Office Supplies +4.48% 75.63 72.38 73.75
Technology – 1.16% 75.03 75.91 74.39
Books/Music/Media – 1.05% 71.00 71.75 71.38
Toys/Games +2.13% 69.96 68.50 61.00
Accessories/Shoes +7.30% 68.91 64.22 66.22
Pets – 3.87% 67.78 70.50 64.50
Home/Garden – 1.92% 67.41 68.73 69.90
Sporting Goods – 5.67% 66.66 70.66 70.79
Health & Beauty +1.39% 65.65 64.75 63.90
Department Stores – 5.21% 65.45 69.05 74.60
Apparel – 4.83% 64.66 67.94 62.67
Gifting/Food +2.35% 61.85 60.43 65.06
Drugstores +1.30% 60.33 59.56 60.50


Proprietary methodology for this index is based on the e-tailing group’s twelve-year mystery shopping track record whereby on each of the 100 sites mystery shopped, over 100 metrics are scored, applying points to key page execution as well as in-demand merchandising and exemplary customer service tactics for a potential index score of 100, having evolved each year along with the industry.

Custom Indexing

“The e-tailing group customer experience index provides an affordable overview that can help merchants prioritize which features and functions need attention first as they plan profitable 2010 initiatives,” suggested Freedman. Merchants interested in having their sites indexed or purchasing 4Q09 performance data should contact Lauren Freedman via email to: Deliverables include: Individual scorecard of a website against the e-tailing 100, selected category comparisons versus competitive sites; best practices and opportunities for improvement identified. The cost is $999 and there is a 4-week turnaround.

About the e-tailing group, inc.
The e-tailing group, inc. serves as the multi-channel merchant’s eye, bringing a merchant’s sensibility to evolving the multi-channel shopping experience. A Chicago-based consultancy, they provide practical strategic perspectives and actionable merchandising solutions to merchants selling online as well as to enabling technology firms.

For more background about this research study, including a list of merchants surveyed or for additional information on the e-tailing group, inc. please contact Lauren Freedman at or visit the e-tailing group website

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