Customer Satisfaction Drives Holiday Web Sales

NEW YORK Online shoppers spent $2.95 billion during the second week of December, according to a joint report from Goldman Sachs & Co., Harris Interactive and Nielsen/NetRatings.

That figure, which excludes travel purchases, represents a 48 percent increase over the same time period a year ago.

All tolled, online spending rose 46 percent to $13 billion from Nov. 1-Dec. 12, driven in part by increased customer satisfaction. More than 62 percent of the survey’s 7,178 respondents said that they were pleased with their overall online shopping experience this holiday season; less than 7 percent reported dissatisfaction.

“The higher levels of customer satisfaction and increased consumer spending online point to the fact that the online channel is no longer a disruptive technology medium but another mainstream channel through which retailers reach out to consumers,” said Abha Bahagat, senior analyst at Nielsen/NetRatings, a part of Adweek parent VNU.

In fact, the online channel is taking share away from brick-and-mortar stores. The report found that consumers spent 21 percent of their 2003 holiday budget on the Web through the week of Dec. 12, versus 16 percent last year. Offline merchants have experienced a commensurate decline: shoppers allocated 73 percent of their budget to brick-and-mortar shopping, down from 77 percent a year ago.

Among the most popular items purchased on the Net: apparel, DVDs, consumer electronics, toys, video games and books.

Web shoppers doled out an estimated $2.5 billion on apparel from Nov. 1-Dec. 12, 35 percent more than the year-ago period, according to the report. The toys and video game category recorded $1.6 billion in sales for the six-week period, while consumer electronics reeled in $1.4 billion, up 27 percent and 12 percent, respectively. And the books category garnered an estimated $1 billion in sales, a 33 percent year-over-year boost.