Report: Costco.com Named Internet's Best One-Stop Shop for Hassle-Free Back-To-School Shopping

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STELLAService evaluates 15 top mass retailers for speed and convenience; Costco.com wins delivery race with average shipping time of 1.5 days

Costco.com ranks first when it comes to hassle-free shopping for back-to-school staples like clothing, school supplies, laptops, and dorm accessories, according to a report released today by STELLAService (http://www.stellaservice.com), the first independent provider of customer service ratings for online retailers.

Dedicated to helping online shoppers make more informed buying decisions, STELLAService leverages a nationwide network of full-time mystery shoppers to rate thousands of retailers each year across more than 350 metrics. Major online retailers, including Zappos, Diapers.com, GNC and more, now display the STELLAService seal.

For the report, STELLAService evaluated 15 of the Internet’s leading one-stop shops, including Amazon, Costco, Walmart, Buy.com, and Overstock.com, according to six best practices that provide convenience during the back-to-school crunch, including shipping, returns, and payment options.

To view charts with a side-by-side comparison and the average shipping days for each retailer, visit: http://blog.stellaservice.com/2011/07/28/back-to-school-shop-at-costco-com/.

According to STELLAService, Costco.com offers the most hassle-free shopping features (6) and far outpaces its competitors when it comes to shipping, clocking an average of 1.5 days for shipping, compared to Walmart, QVC.com, and Belk.com, whose packages took an average of 5.5 days to arrive. Only four retailers – Costco.com, Amazon, Overstock, and Buy.com – boasted average shipping times of three days or less.

Costco.com also boasts several key features essential for fast and easy back-to-school shopping, including providing an estimated date of delivery once orders are placed, a streamlined return process that does not require shoppers to get a Return Merchandise Authorization number (RMA#), and a wide choice of payment options (all four major credit cards and BillMeLater).

“With shoppers pressed for time and often focused on squeezing the most out of summer before preparing for the new school year, this study should help guide them to the best one-stop shops where they can potentially get all of their shopping done in just one visit,” said Jordy Leiser, co-founder and CEO of STELLAService. “While all of the stores we evaluated offer competitive pricing and wide selection, Costco.com stood out by providing the quickest, easiest, and most convenient shopping experience.”

Other key highlights of the study include:

  •     Seven of the 15 retailers surveyed provide shoppers with an estimated date of delivery (Amazon, Costco, HSN, Kohls, Sears, Target, Walmart), while eight of them do not (Belk.com, Boscovs.com, Buy.com, Macys.com, Meijers.com, Overstock.com, ShopNBC.com, and QVC.com). “Back to school shoppers shouldn’t have to wonder if packages will arrive before the first day of school,” said Leiser.
  •     Making the return process more difficult for consumers, six of the 15 mass retailers - Amazon, Belk.com, Buy.com, Meijer.com, Target, and Walmart –require shoppers to get a Return Merchandise Authorization number (RMA#) before making a return. Leiser says “permission slips are for field trips, not returns” and encourages retailers to end the practice of requiring shoppers to seek permission to make a return.
  •     Six of the retailers – Belk.com, Boscovs.com, Kohls.com, Macys.com, Meijer.com, and Target.com – do not offer flexible payment options such as Paypal, bill me later, layaway plans or Google checkout.
  •     Most of the retailers offer a generous window for returns of at least 90 days, except for Amazon (30 days), HSN.com (30), Overstock.com (30), QVC.com, (30), ShopNBC (30), and Buy.com (45)

About STELLAService
Dedicated to helping consumers make more informed online shopping decisions, STELLAService is the first and only independent provider of customer service ratings for online retailers. The company leverages a nationwide network of full-time mystery shoppers to evaluate each site undercover, ensuring findings that are unbiased and true to the shopping experience. The company has been profiled in Advertising Age (“STELLAService strives to give e-tailers credibility”) and its data has been featured in outlets such as Time, SmartMoney, Consumerist, and Business Insider. Based in New York City, the company also publishes reports and other research to help companies worldwide improve their service operations. For more information, visit http://www.STELLAService.com. Follow us on Twitter at @STELLAService.

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Patrick Kowalczyk
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Alisa Finkelstein
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