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Outpost.com stays on top online

Outpost.com stays on top online

Outpost.com remains the number one online computing retailer, according to research analyst Forrester's latest PowerRankings.

Outpost beat off Amazon.com and Staples to gain the number one spot, combining customer service with low prices.

Other top computer retailers include Beyond.com. Micro Ware- house, buy.com, CDW, Egghead.com and TigerDirect.

Free overnight shipping and a speedy buying process pushed Outpost.com ahead of its competition, said analysts. The company also offers low prices and top customer service.

"Since our last computer rankings, Outpost.com has increased the distance between itself and the competition," said Tom Rhinelander, senior analyst at Forrester.

The only weakness in the site is its lack of features and services, such as a wish list and gift-wrapping.

"If basic features were added to the already strong online experience, even Amazon.com, which only started selling software last November, will have a way to go before catching up to Outpost.com."

Although Amazon.com has not been selling computers online for long, customers were impressed by its lower prices, personal recommendations and one-click checkout.

But mandatory registration and a lack of real-time inventory information can frustrate customers. In contrast, Outpost.com makes registration optional.

While third-placed Staples performed well in customer service, shipping and return policy, the company was let down by post purchase out of stock notification, inaccurate searches and difficulties in navigating the Web site.

Number five ranked Beyond.com scored well for its optional registration and express checkout, but did not include features such as an address book, reviews or wish list.buy.com, which rated sixth in the survey, lost points for compulsory registration, no real-time inventory information and slow customer service.

At the bottom of the rankings, companies scored badly for high delivery costs, server errors, bad search functions and confusing product information.

Forrester researched the sites by surveying 19,000 online consumers from a database of more than 600,000. These consumers identified and rated their purchasing experiences with the e-commerce sites they most recently bought from. Forrester then sent out a team to evaluate shopping on sites that a statistically valid number of consumers had identified.www.forrester.com


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