Sentiment of the Week: Relief with Online Shopping

By: Clarabridge Team

June 18, 2015

Tags:
customer experience
customer experience management

Life has moved online. It just has. Communication, currency, medical records – they’ve all gone digital, providing relief from time-consuming logistics. More and more, our lives are stored in the theoretical and vague space of the internet, and our experiences are following suit. Theatres are replaced by Netflix and other streaming services; groceries can be selected online; and books and music can be downloaded just as fast as your bandwidth allows. Perhaps most prolifically, clothes and accessories are pointed-at and clicked more than ever.

While traditional department store powerhouses like Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Neiman Marcus have convenient online platforms, more and more online-only stores are making their presence known. A decreased emphasis on the physical experience, including the prestige of benefitting from (and being seen receiving) first-class personal attention, has been a great equalizer for clothing purveyors. Price, product quality, and issue resolution take on increased importance as differentiators.

Based on our research, it’s clear that to win in the increasingly crowded online retail world of women’s fashion, there are a few key experience elements that businesses must master:

1. User-friendly website
2. Convenient returns policy
3. Quick, accurate fulfillment

You can see how this plays out in a competitive analysis of leading women’s apparel brands:

2015-382_sotw_6-18When it comes to online-only clothing retailers, a trio rises above the rest. RueLaLa, Gilt, and HauteLook are among the most-trafficked online clothing retailers, each offering designer clothing at reduced prices on a limited time basis. Of the three, RueLaLa boasts the highest sentiment, at a relatively lukewarm 0.16, though the difference between RueLaLa and HauteLook (-0.06) is more gap than gulf. RueLaLa wins out not by making a better impression, necessarily (27% positive comments for both them and for Gilt), but by doing less wrong – just 14% of the conversation surrounding the brand involves negative sentiment.

What does that mean in practice? Well, for one, HauteLook struggles with fulfillment (16% of all comments related to the topic), while website usability scores for all three were mediocre. Price and value also returned middling reviews, with the price-conscious nature of the audiences clearly making its bias known. RueLaLa, however, offers the best and most streamlined buying experience, as well as a more convenient returns process, two areas where its competitors could stand to make up some ground.

With millennials spending more money online than any other age group, the importance of delivering a hassle-free online shopping experience will only increase in years to come. Online retailers can stay ahead of the game by conducting a sentiment analysis of customer feedback. Not only will this type of analysis help pinpoint the most impactful opportunities for improvement, but it will also drive future site enhancements and marketing campaigns.

To learn more about how a sentiment analysis can benefit online retailers, or any other industry seeking to build loyal customer relationships, download our eBook: 6 Reasons Why Marketers Need CX Insights.


Clarabridge’s blog, Sentiments, helps businesses incorporate customer sentiment and feedback into their business strategy. Published by Clarabridge, Sentiments speaks to customer experience professionals, marketers, customer care leaders and anyone who wants to make informed, strategic decisions that delight customers. Follow Sentiments on Twitter @Clarabridge.

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