Williams-Sonoma Tops Mystery Shopping Study

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Williams-Sonoma ranked the highest overall in the 15th Annual Mystery Shopping Study conducted in the fourth quarter of 2012 by the e-tailing group.

The e-tailing group released their Customer Experience Index results this week, according to a press release.

According to the results from the press release, Williams-Sonoma had a score of 83.50 for the fourth quarter 2012. For 2011, they had a score of 82.75 but ranked eighth on the 100 sites surveyed.

The top four in 2011 survey included Sears, L.L Bean, HSN and The Home Depot. These companies did not make the top four this year. Other companies included Overstock.com and QVC not making the list.

“It was tight race to the top as HSN, L.L. Bean and QVC all have strong scores and are in the top 15,” said Lauren Freedman, president of e-tailing group. “Sears, Overstock and Petco had significant declines in their overall merchandising and customer scores and the results are across a range of metrics versus consistent across all retailers.”

Freedman said these companies were mystery shopped.

No specifics were given as to why Sears who had the top score of 90.25 last year didn’t make the list this year.

“Our review is and always has been focusing on the winning sites and what they do well rather than critiquing those that don’t,” said Freedman.

In the top three included Nordstrom, Amazon.com and Toys ‘R’ Us, according to a press release bythe e-tailing group.

The nine on the 2012 list of retailers who scored 80 out of 100 points met the e-tailing group’s challenge for the Customer Experience Index Results, according to the release.

“I think it’s also interesting that a lot of the larger players not only are making big investments in the front-end of the experience, but they also have to execute on the backend from the customer-service perspective,” said Freedman.

Toys ‘R’ Us reached a score of 81.50 for the fourth quarter of 2012. Last year’s results garnered a score of 83.75. Amazon saw a score of 81.50 and they have remained the same from last year. Barnes & Noble saw a score of 80.75, they have remained consistent with last year with a score of 80.00.

“The fact that you have a range of merchants from a range of different categories is also interesting,” said Freedman.

The e-tailing group index is calculated through quantitative analysis of metrics extrapolate from their mystery shopping study conducted annually in the fourth quarter with an objective of uniquely understanding how merchants stack-up against the e-tailing 100 websites, direct competitors and their categories, according to the press release.

The index provides an affordable overview that can help merchants prioritize which features and functions need attention first as they plan profitable 2013 initiatives, according to the press release.

“As the needle keeps moving in terms of the channel you have to deliver in – including mobile and social, it gets even harder and harder to achieve these performance levels,” said Freedman.

The category performance section of the index indicates that there is still work to be done by retailers. Office supplies tops the winners table as the only category to exceed 80 points followed by last year’s top category performer Mass Merchants of 76.03, despite seeing a 7% decline.

Other categories included baby/toys/games at 8%, food and gifting 7%, accessories and shoes at 7% and home/garden at 6%.

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