Retail Benchmarks Holiday Season 2010 - Office Supply Category

Posted on December 15, 2010 by Nanette BrownComments

Our recent survey of 54 brick-and-mortar stores included visits to 30 locations at each chain across the country. Over 1,600 store visits were conducted over the last two months and 10,000 data points collected.

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Topics: Mystery Shopping

Retail Benchmarks Holiday Season 2010 - Off Price Category

Posted on December 13, 2010 by David RichComments

Off Price retailers are not expected to have an amazing service and selling experience...right? Their low prices and "great finds" speak for themselves. While this may be true, there still exists the opportunity to improve. In recent weeks, ICC/Decision Services conducted 1621 mystery shops measuring 9 categories at over 50 retailers in 30 locations per retailer. That resulted in over 10,000 data points gathered by our Mystery Shopping and Secret Shopping efforts. In the off-price category, the top three retailers are Ross Stores, Burlington Coat Factory and TJ Maxx in that order. Data gathered by our secret shoppers reveal that this category really suffers in selling. While customer expectations for service might be a bit different in the off-price retailers, we were very surprised to see how low the selling scores were. If just one of these retailers were to invest in have well trained sales associates on the floor, they could not only increase revenues dramatically, but they could easily set themselves apart in their category, increasing traffic resulting in an even greater bottom line increase, as employees could sell more to customers when they visited their stores. Sales don’t need to be aggressive, but helping customers find other items and making suggestions appropriate to customer choices could differentiate the retailer and considering that even a few percentage points more in sales could translate into millions of dollars, this just might represent a huge opportunity for improvement.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Retail Benchmarks Holiday Season 2010 - Home Improvement Category

Posted on December 9, 2010 by David RichComments

ICC/DS Mystery Shoppers conducted 1621 mystery shops in recent weeks measuring across 9 categories at 50 plus retail chains in 30 locations across the country and gathering over 1600 data points. In the home improvement category, Home Depot came out just ahead of Lowe’s. Interestingly, both stores ranked extremely low on selling. Employees are very helpful and pointed our secret shoppers in the direction of what they were already looking for, but rarely did anyone suggest an item in the store that would be perfect with what the customer was buying or point out specials or promotions. When done in the right way – that is, not pushy or overbearing, customers perceive buying suggestions as helpful and the employees offering them as concerned and considerate. Is it possible that management has overlooked that point? In a season when purchasing is expected to be up several percentage points, our retail benchmark study indicates that more focus on getting customers to buy more when they are in the stores would punch up the sales percentage points and profits for the retailer – a missed opportunity that could be easily corrected.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Retail Benchmarks Holiday Season 2010 - Electronics Category

Posted on December 8, 2010 by Nanette BrownComments

ICC/Decision Services conducted 1621 mystery shops in recent weeks measuring 9 categories at 50 retailers in 30 locations per retailer. That resulted in over 10,000 data points gathered by our Mystery Shopping and Secret Shopping efforts.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Blog

Retail Benchmarks Holiday Season 2010 - Department Stores

Posted on December 6, 2010 by Nanette BrownComments

Our recent survey of 54 brick-and-mortar stores included visits to 30 locations at each chain across the country. Over 1,600 store visits were conducted over the last two months and 10,000 data points collected. In the department store category, Nordstrom ranked first, followed by Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Sears and Kohls. Being first is great and it’s no secret that Nordstrom has a ‘number one reputation’. Surprisingly, our secret shoppers found that Nordstrom ranked 60 in the suggestion category. If you think in terms of grades in school, 60 out of 100 is more or less a failing mark. Expectations are that holiday sales will be up about 2.3% this year. What would happen if employees were actually selling customers who were in the stores? What would it look like if sales were up 10% instead of 2.3%? Most customers purchasing decisions are made in the stores. It makes sense then that retail management would be well served to put effort into sales training for the employees who interact with their most valuable asset: retail customers.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Blog

Retail Benchmarks Holiday Season 2010 - Apparel Category

Posted on December 3, 2010 by Nanette BrownComments

Who will benefit most from what promises to be a better year for consumer holiday spending? We decided to find out. We conducted 1621 mystery shops in recent weeks measuring across 9 categories at 54 retailers in 30 locations per store.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Blog

New Study Reveals Missed Opportunities For Retailers

Posted on November 30, 2010 by David RichComments

New Retail Benchmark Study Reveals Opportunity To Increase Conversion This 2010 Holiday Season

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Topics: News

Inspect What You Expect – In Store Audits Tell You What You Need to Know

Posted on November 17, 2010 by David RichComments

How do you know what’s actually happening at your store locations day-to-day? It’s not realistic to get objective information from employees. They’re your ‘frontline’ in customer service and experience – do you know whether they’re performing up to corporate standards?

In-Store Audits can tell you what’s happening ‘on the ground’, give you fresh insight and provide internal and external accountability. Do you have marketing agreements in place and the need to be accountable to brands? Do you contract out or run in-store demos? How do you know they’re being properly executed? Do you spend money for displays? How can you be certain they’re being properly set up and stocked? How do you know they’re being set up at every location? In-store audits put metrics in place so you can measure productivity, hold partners accountable and gather the information that can improve your business and your bottom line.

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Topics: Customer Experience

M-Commerce Gains Traction

Posted on November 15, 2010 by Nanette BrownComments

Reaching your customers via their mobile phones - wherever they are - combines convenience and urgency.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Using Innovative Technology to Boost Sales

Posted on November 8, 2010 by Nanette BrownComments

Shopping online has become commonplace for the American consumer – but there’s more than one new approach to making more sales – online and at brick and mortar locations.

With the season that for many retailers is ‘make-or-break’ rapidly approaching, many retailers are trying fresh approaches. Mobile shopping apps are gaining popularity, allowing retailers to send offers directly to shoppers’ phones with the aim of reaching those buyers when they’re within a short walk or drive of the stores.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Give Customers Exactly What They Want

Posted on November 1, 2010 by Nanette BrownComments

That’s precisely what the new online shopping site Plum Willow is hoping to achieve by working with teenage interns who are telling them what they like and why. Savvy and resourceful, these teens have their finger on the pulse of a group that has considerable retail purchasing power.

“They definitely aren’t shy about telling us what they like and don’t like,” says Lindsay Anvik, director of marketing at PlumWillow, who helps oversee the internship program at its offices in Manhattan.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Macy’s Shakes it Up

Posted on October 28, 2010 by Nanette BrownComments

Macy’s has a new approach to keeping things fresh. Their ‘Impulse’ department will rotate designers every two months. They’re working with top international designers to create lines especially for their stores.

The Impulse department targets younger shoppers and prices will range from $50-300. “This customer loves to shop,” said Jeff Gennette, the chief merchandising officer of Macy’s. “She wants to be in our store all the time, and we’d better be interesting.”

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Topics: Customer Experience

Amazon Breaks New Ground – Again

Posted on October 25, 2010 by Nanette BrownComments

Amazon expert and staff writer for TechFlash Eric Engelman reports that the online retail giant was just granted a patent for ‘environmentally conscious electronic transactions’. The patent envisions a system in which customers are given "a shipping option that might not be as fast, and might be more expensive, but that is more environmentally friendly in at least one way." It also suggests letting people buy carbon credits to offset the emissions generated by the packaging and shipping of their purchases.

Who would have thought you could patent slower, more expensive shipping? The patent covers many consumer options including the option to have products shipped in smaller boxes, have items packaged together and using a shipping company that has a deliberately smaller carbon footprint.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Holiday Season 2010

Posted on October 22, 2010 by Nanette BrownComments

Consumers are most interested in value and price this holiday season. Spending is up and so is bargain hunting. The National Retail Federation is forecasting holiday sales will be the best in four years. Some sources report the numbers might be stronger for online than for brick and mortar locations.

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Topics: Customer Experience

A New Twist on Geo-Targeting

Posted on October 20, 2010 by Nanette BrownComments

The North Face, the outdoor and apparel retailer is testing a new geo-targeting strategy known as ‘geo-fencing’. Customers can opt-in to receive ‘auto check-in’ service which allows North Face to send an SMS message via a smart or standard cell phone. Essentially, users are opting to be identified when they arrive and leave certain areas.

When customers opt-in to the "Summit Signals" program, they automatically receive SMS offers once they are within a 1.5 miles radius of a North Face location. Customers also receive other information relevant to their location that would be of potential interest such as hiking trails or outdoor recreation areas.

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Topics: Customer Experience

Customer Experience Update