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.
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.
Topics: Customer Experience
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.
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.
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.
New Retail Benchmark Study Reveals Opportunity To Increase Conversion This 2010 Holiday Season
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.
Topics: Customer Experience
Gaining the Edge
Business people always look for ways to gain an advantage for their company. It’s often the small (and sometime not so obvious) edge that makes all the difference in results. In the current economy, the typical apparel retail store has a conversion rate of 18%. That means 100 people walk through the doors and 82 walk out without having made a purchase. Just a small uptick in percentage can have a huge financial impact. An increase of just 5% - from 18% to 23% could result in $8,176,000 in sales per 100 stores. 5% = over $8 million dollars.
Topics: Customer Intercepts
Reaching your customers via their mobile phones - wherever they are - combines convenience and urgency.
Topics: Customer Experience
Mystery shopping is the program everyone loves to hate. Yet, it’s the only real objective retail tool available. Why is it so disrespected? Because its’ often misunderstood, poorly implemented or improperly used. Mystery shopping tells you exactly what’s happening in your stores including how employees are performing, how your displays look, how clean your stores are, how bathrooms are being maintained, how long someone waits to pay for a purchase. You work tirelessly to get it right at the corporate level, but how do you know your plans, goals and training are being properly and effectively implemented in your stores?
When done right, Mystery Shopping is a tremendous asset for retailers. Results can be used right away to improve the customer experience and to motivate employees, optimize resources and improve operations in every way. Sound big? It is. Mystery shopping is observational research at the business level and like any research, you have to know what data needs to be gathered and how to best interpret and use it. Without these metrics in place and properly carried out, the value is questionable. And like most things, something done poorly is usually worse than not doing it at all.
Topics: Mystery Shopping