Amazon has best season ever, most satisfied customers

While Amazon is riding high, Apple, Dell and JCPenney fall

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
December 27, 2012
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We already knew that 2012 was a monster year for e-commerce. Online shopping on Thanksgiving went up 17.8% compared to last year and overall sales were even better on Black Friday this year, with 57 million Americans visiting online retail stores on Friday for record e-commerce sales. Then Cyber Monday became the largest online shopping day in history, with $1.46 billion in sales.

In fact, 2012 was such a good year for e-commerce that Amazon announced Thursday that this holiday season was the company's biggest ever, with over 26.5 million items ordered worldwide on its peak day of November 26. That means that the company was selling 306 items per second. Over 15.6 million units were shipped across all product categories that day alone.

The best selling items for Amazon this season were its tablets: the Kindle Fire HD, the Kindle Fire, the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle held the top four spots on the Amazon worldwide best seller charts since launching. Sales of apps and games during the holiday period were up more than 250% year-to-year.

Customer satisfaction

If that weren't enough to make  Amazon happy, the company also announced that it topped Foresee's Holiday E-Retail Satisfaction Index for the eighth straight year.

The ForeSee survey asked over 24,000 customers to rate their satisfaction with the top 100 retailers between Thanksgiving and Christmas. For the second straight year, Amazon wound up with a score of 88, the highest ever attained.

“We are grateful to customers for once again ranking us at the top of the ForeSee customer satisfaction survey and for choosing to shop at Amazon this holiday,” Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of, said in statement. “On behalf of Amazon employees around the world, we wish everyone happy holidays and the very best for the coming year.”

Amazon did so well this year that Larry Freed, ForeSee president and CEO, actually pointed to Amazon as the model for other online retailers to follow.

“At this point, Amazon has been dominant for so long and has such a history of focusing on the customer, its hard to imagine anyone else coming close. Companies should emulate Amazon’s focus on the customer, which is clearly linked to superior revenues over the years," he said in a statement.

Other findings in the report

The rest of the top 10 online retailers with the highest satisfaction ratings were LLBean, QVC, Vitacost, Estee Lauder, Vistaprint, 1800Contacts, Keurig, Scholastic and Avon.

While Amazon and these other retailers were riding high this year, others were not doing so well, including Apple, Dell and JCPenney.

Apple fell three points year-to-year, and now has a score of 80. Last year it was tied for second place, and now it out of the top five entirely, with its lowest score in four years. PC competitor also fell three points, to 77 and below the Index average. But the biggest year-over-year decline goes to, with a five point decline to 78.

So why did JCPenney fall so hard in 2012, while Amazon was still able to ride so high? 

According to the report, it is because the company did not listen to its customers while trying to redo its business model.

"JCPenney is a great example of why a company needs to listen to THEIR OWN customers before overhauling their business model. Many of the company’s woes are a result of not understanding what their customers’ wants, needs and expectations were. We will need to watch JCPenney closely in the coming year to see if the downward trend continues or can be reversed," the report said.

“This year, we’re seeing that even some of the largest companies in the country are at risk if they lose sight of customer satisfaction,” Freed said. “Satisfaction with the customer experience, when measured correctly, is the most important predictor of future success, and while Amazon clearly gets it, Apple stumbles from their usual focus on the customer experience. Dell and JC Penney seem to be struggling to find their way, which could make them extremely vulnerable to competitors.”

The companies that improved the most from 2011 were HSN and Sony Store, which both went up by five points year-to-year. LLBean and The Gap saw four point increases.

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