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Customers say Apple's online store has become less satisfying to shop

A new survey ranking major retailers' online stores found that customers felt Apple's website dropped in quality in 2012.

Customers who participated in the survey by ForeSee gave Apple a score of 80 out of 100. That's down from last year's score of 83, and represents a four-year-low for the company.

Larry Freed, president and chief executive of ForeSee, told Reuters that customers felt navigation on Apple's online store has become more difficult. In particular, customers apparently feel Apple's expanded product lineup — which has added products such as the iPad in recent years — has become an issue.

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Last year, Apple was tied for second place in the survey, but this year Apple fell out of the top five online stores in terms of customer satisfaction.

"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," Freed said. "Dell, and JCPenney seem to be struggling to find their way, which could make them extremely vulnerable to competitors."

Holding first place in the rankings was Amazon, which matched last year's score of 88 out of 100. Other companies ahead of Apple were LLBean.com (score of 85), QVC.com (84), Esteelauder.com (83) and Newegg.com (81).

Apple's score of 80 saw the company tied for 14th place with websites such as Netflix.com, MusiciansFriend.com, VictoriasSecret.com, Chicos.com, 1800Flowers.com, and Walgreens.com.

"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," added Freed. "Companies should emulate Amazon's focus on the customer, which is clearly linked to superior revenues over the years."

ForeSee's data is based on more than 24,000 customer surveys collected during the holiday shopping season during Thanksgiving and Christmas. It measured satisfaction among customers at the top 100 online stores.