NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Internet retailer Amazon.com was the darling of online shoppers during the 1999 holiday season, according to a study released over the weekend, while Toysrus.com got a big Yuletide raspberry for failing to deliver the goods.|
New York accounting and consulting firm Ernst & Young conducted the survey of 1,283 Internet users. The poll seems to confirm growing industry concern that the 1999 holiday season, while a robust year for Internet sales, revealed some serious customer service issues for the sector.
The vast majority of the respondents—87 percent—said they had increased their online shopping compared to last year, with seventeen percent saying they had boosted their cyber shopping by 50 to 75 percent or more. Fourteen percent said they had increased their e-commerce purchases 100 to 200 percent or more.
Travel-related items—air, car rental and hotel rooms--were the most popular total online sales items this holiday season, nailing 47.5 percent of the respondents.
Books were next at 38.2 percent, followed by computer hardware and software at 36.6 percent. Flowers, electronics and books were three most popular online gift purchases.
Up the Amazon
Amazon (AMZN) was the favorite of online shopping destination and the most frequently used. Thirty-two percent of those surveyed named Amazon as their favorite site, citing the Seattle-based e-tailer’s good selection, good prices and easy to use site.
Online auction site eBay Inc. (EBAY) was a distant second at 6 percent, followed by online retailer Buy.com at 5 percent and toy e-tailer eToys (ETYS).
Amazon was also the most used site, with 42.1 percent of the respondents using the site and spending an average of $128. Next was eToys at 20.3 percent, with consumers spending $127 and the Toys R Us (TOY) Web site at 19.4 percent, spending $134.
Shoppers praised eBay for its good selection, offering of items that are not available in stores and good prices.
Where’s my $%*-ing order?
When asked what site disappointed them most, 13 percent of the respondents named toysrus.com, with 29 percent complaining that merchandise was out of stock. Twenty-one percent said the merchandise could not be delivered and 18 percent said the site was too slow.
Toysrus.com stumbled during this critical season when the retailer was unable to deliver a number of orders placed on or before Dec. 10 due to overwhelming volume.
Best Buy (BBY), the country’s No.1 consumer electronics specialty retailer, was next on the disappointment list. Buy.com—which was also No.3 on the favorite list-- eToys (ETYS), and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) all came in with three percent each.
Wal-Mart launched a revamped Web site Friday at midnight and company officials said the redesigned site offers more products, personal shopping aids, and travel and photo services.
While shoppers praised Buy.com’s prices and selection, they also complained about merchandise being out of stock, delivery problems, technical problems, high shipping costs, poor customer service and a site that was too slow or difficult to use.
Officials at Toys R Us, Best Buy, and Buy.com were unavailable for comment.
The respondents purchased an average $1,225 worth of items on the Internet over the past 12 months. Half the respondents said they would increase their online spending over the next 12 months, while 41 percent said their spending levels would stay about the same.
The average respondent was 40.5 years old and saw a total household income of $68,500 per year. Forty-four percent were men, 55 percent were women and 77 percent were married.
Thirty-nine percent of the respondents had some college education, but no degree, while 29 percent were college graduates. Another 17 percent attended graduate school or had an advanced degree.