Survey: Big box retailers are earning visits on price, but losing customers on experience

June 5, 2012

Empathica Inc., a provider of customer experience management solutions, has announced that its Consumer Insights Panel survey of more than 6,500 U.S. consumers found that nearly all U.S. consumers (93 percent) visited a big box retailer in a one month period, with seven out of 10 consumers visiting more than three times.

Survey results show that the most important factor in choosing a big box retailer is price (61 percent). Other important factors to U.S. consumers include location convenience (12 percent) and a wide selection of products (10 percent). Seventy-one percent of customers also indicated that they prefer to visit big box retailers that offer a "one-stop" shopping experience, with all essential products at one store.

"While price is the most important factor to most U.S. consumers shopping at big box retailers, not all retailers can offer the lowest price, so they must find other ways to stay ahead of the competition," said Dr. Gary Edwards, chief customer officer, Empathica. "One such way is customer experience — by offering location convenience, a wide selection of products and exceptional customer service, big box retailers can drive customer loyalty."

Lack of personalization was cited at a high rate for big box retailers — with two in five consumers reporting that their shopping experience did not feel personalized. That personalized customer experience, when found in other outlets, leads to greater loyalty and a better chance for the customer to become a brand advocate, said Edwards.

Many survey respondents also report that employees do not provide satisfactory answers to customer questions. One in five respondents report that employees do not provide accurate answers to questions in their areas of expertise, and only 39 percent of customers believe employees listen when a customer approaches them with a question.

Despite affection for visiting big box retail outlets, consumers believe that front line employees are not happy with their work. Only 38 percent of those surveyed believe employees at big box retailers appear to be enjoying their jobs.

"Absence of employee enjoyment can mean there is something amiss in the retail environment," Edwards said. "Location managers have much room for improvement when it comes to engaging their employees and emphasizing the importance of customer service standards."

Survey results revealed that while nearly all U.S. consumers visit big box retailers in a given month due to price and convenience, many consumers report inconsistencies in the experience at brands' multi-unit locations. One in five consumers report they do not have a consistent experience at big box retailers across their various locations.

"Even if you have a great experience in one store, you can't trust the brand to deliver in others. This inconsistency erodes brands equity. Retailers that can consistently manage the customer experience will drive regular consumer habits, which in turn will drive sales," Edwards said. "Big box retailers must create an environment where consumers are confident their needs will be met at each and every visit no matter the location."

Topics: Consumer Behavior , Customer Experience , Marketing , Omnichannel / Multichannel

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