One question we often get asked is about the relevance of various research methods. What we find is that best-in-class retailers seek and respond to feedback from all key stakeholders – including primary customers, secondary and non-shoppers, employees, and trade partners. Each of these constituent groups provides valuable information about a retailer’s business, as well as that of the competitors. And there are a variety of research tools that can all play a part in the process!
Recently I wrote a guest blog for Brick Meets Click (www.brickmeetsclick) on how technology can be used to bring a personal touch back to retail. Specifically, the focus was how automated customer feedback programs can be used to connect with shoppers. Please find the blog entry reprinted below as I really wanted to be sure that RFG clients had a chance to read this as well. And, please check out Brick Meets Click for compelling thoughts on the future of retailing!
Supermarkets often have strong ties to the community they serve. While we often think of this support in the month of December, when many charitable organizations tug at us to support their cause, community support is important year round. In the Retail Feedback Group’s 2012 Supermarket Experience Survey, we found that 28% of shoppers report that the supermarkets they recently visited are very involved in supporting the local community. In addition, 36% believe their stores are somewhat involved while just 4% indicate that their supermarkets are not too involved.
In the 2012 Supermarket Experience Survey recently released by the Retail Feedback Group, we reported that no factor influences trip satisfaction to the extent of out-of-stocks. Supermarket satisfaction among shoppers unable to find all items they had planned to buy on their shopping trip averaged 3.97 on a five-point scale, compared with 4.54 among shoppers who did find all items.
In today's world, there are many factors that impact the typical visit to a grocery store. A shopper's overall satisfaction is determined by his or her perception of price and value, the quality and variety of merchandise, the condition of the store and interactions with store personnel.
Although cause-based marketing and community involvement is nothing new for retailers, it is more important than ever in today's economically challenged world. Consumers want to know what causes a company supports and they may even change their shopping behavior as a result of what they learn. And the assistance that worthy organizations receive from retailers is priceless and can make a tremendous difference.
While all of us have heard comments from family, friends or neighbors suggesting grocery shopping is a most unpleasant chore, our research indicates otherwise. In fact, in the most recent U.S. Supermarket Experience study conducted by Retail Feedback Group, the majority of those surveyed indicated they either enjoyed grocery shopping a lot (24%) or enjoyed it a little (35%). Another 27% indicated they felt neutral about grocery shopping, while just 9% and 5% disliked it a little or a lot, respectively.This positive attitude in the grocery aisles is important to retailers as our research also shows that shoppers who are having fun are significantly more satisfied with their trip and are also spending more money.What can a retailer do to increase the amount of fun while shopping? Below are useful examples of what some have done to generate excitement!
While grocery shoppers look to save money in a wide variety of ways, one opportunity to do so is to eat out less and cook at home more often. The recent U.S. Supermarket Experience Study conducted by The Retail Feedback Group found that over the coming months shoppers plan to eat out less at sit-down and quick-serve restaurants. At the same time, shoppers plan to more often prepare and eat dinner at home, as well as prepare, eat, or bring lunch and breakfast from home.
Saving money is certainly one key reason people eat more meals at home, with dozens of shoppers in our study using words such as “cheaper”, “inexpensive” and “less expensive” to describe a home-cooked meal. Further, these words are supported by shopper estimates in the study of the per-person average cost of a home-cooked meal ($5.93) versus eating out ($12.28).
It is with great pleasure that I welcome Brian Numainville as a Principal at The Retail Feedback Group. Brian comes to RFG from Nash Finch Company, where he was Senior Director, Research and Public Relations, and Chair of the NFC Foundation, Nash Finch's charitable giving arm. In his 18-year career at Nash Finch, Brian has been a trusted advisor to chain and independent retailers, helping meet the needs of their customers and employees through survey feedback and qualitative research. His expertise includes survey design and reporting, statistical and market analysis, geographic information systems (GIS), and cause marketing.
Sometimes just a kind observation by one of your employees can turn around a customer's day.
One of my best recent shopping experiences happened at the Fairway supermarket near my office. Having a pretty bad head cold, and with an unseasonable snow in the day's forecast, I trudged through the store buying groceries for the weekend (and some Tylenol).
One of the items I unloaded on the checkout belt was a six-pack of Sam Adams beer. I don't often buy beer at the store these days, so I'm always a little taken aback when a cashier asks for my I.D. Being twice the legal drinking age at this point, I can't help but kid myself and wonder if he or she really can't tell how old I am. (Alas, I know most stores now require their employees to ask everyone).
So on that day when the cashier asked to see my driver's license, I managed to chuckle a bit and hand it to her. She looked at the picture, then my face, then the picture again (OK it's an old mug shot). She handed it back to me and started scanning the other items as I took out my shopping bags and began to fill them.
Then she said, without interrupting her work, "It's almost your birthday."
Her observation struck me as so earnest that it got me out of head-down packing mode. I said, "Yes, I guess it is."
"November is my favorite month for birthdays," she said, still scanning. "Actually, the whole season…December too. It's a nice time of year for a birthday."
Now I was engaged in the conversation. "Mine is always right around Thanksgiving, and the family is usually together. I've always loved that." And she replied, "Yeah mine is the week before Christmas and everyone is in such a good mood." And so we exchanged a few more pleasantries, and by this time she was handing me the receipt to sign.
As I rolled the cart toward the exit, it struck me that I was in a good mood. I think I was actually humming. Still with a cold, still facing the prospect of shoveling the driveway later, and still on my way to a busy day at work. But in a good mood, because of one kind observation from the supermarket cashier. Now that's great service, during the holidays or anytime.
One final thought. Many retailers require their front end personnel to interact with all customers, such as asking if they found everything or thanking them for their purchase. But the above interaction was not guided by a standard or procedure. This cashier seemed to have an innate understanding of how to interact with me. In fact, had she looked at my license and exclaimed "It's your birthday next week!" I would likely have responded with just a few words and hoped that she would continue scanning my items (alright I'm surly before work). Rather, I think she could sense my state of mind and was thoughtful enough to return my ID and continue working before she made the birthday observation. Looking back on the situation, her approach was the most effective way of interacting with one particular customer at one given moment. That can't be mandated or turned into a standard operating procedure. But it separates an excellent retail experience from a satisfactory one.