Apple Store Tops List for Delivering Best Shopper Experience in Survey of Retailing Pros

The results of a recent RetailWire/Dechert-Hampe survey of retail industry experts and practitioners emphasize the need to deliver unique shopping experiences and superior customer service. A number of in-store technology solutions ranked toward the bottom of the ratings with regard to their contribution to the shopper experience, which raises the obvious question: Why did the survey participants rank Apple Store tops among all retailers mentioned?

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Retail:Next Study: Investing in the Shopper Experience

People are underestimating Apple's mastery of the fundamentals. If it were just the technology, Circuit City and CompUSA would have been on this list instead of in Chapter 11.

Upper Montclair, NJ (PRWEB) April 12, 2010

Price, product selection and technology can only take you so far in retailing today because they can be matched by competitors. When it comes to creating happy consumers, retailers need to deliver unique shopping experiences and customer service that meets shoppers' expectations. Living up to those expectations is what ultimately determines how consumers perceive a retailer. Those are the key takeaways from the third in the Retail:Next series of RetailWire surveys conducted by Dechert-Hampe & Co. As opposed to gathering consumer perceptions, the series polls retail industry experts and practitioners that make up the RetailWire.com audience.

Earlier this week, during a webinar to announce the results of the research, Ben Ball, senior vice president, Dechert-Hampe, told attendees that responses to the question of what determines customer satisfaction broke out into three groups:

1. Shopping experience and customer satisfaction
2. Product assortment
3. Price

"Shopper experience and customer service clearly separated themselves from the rest of the pack." said Mr. Ball. "That makes a lot of sense when you think about it. 'Does the store meet my expectations?' 'Was I well taken care of if I had a problem?' Those are the first two things I want to know as a consumer or shopper. Product assortment sort of fell in the middle range here. 'Could I find what I need?' And interestingly enough, 'Was I happy with the price in terms of deals, promotions, etc.?'"

Here are the factors that most influence the shopping experience, according to our survey respondents, using a five-point scale:

1. Customer-Centric Store Design - 3.80
2. Availability of National Brands - 3.72
3. Quality Store Brands - 3.66
4. Signage & Navigational Aids - 3.66
5. Localized Product Assortments - 3.59
6. Inventory Management Systems - 3.56
7. Shopper Buying History/Data - 3.51
8. Ambiance (Lighting, Music, etc.) - 3.45
9. Loyalty Marketing Programs - 3.44
10. Rationalized SKU Assortments - 3.42
11. Research & Shopper Insights - 3.40

Ultimately, the study showed, the fundamentals of retailing still matter.

Chris O'Malley, director of retail marketing for Intel Corporation's Embedded & Communications Group (sponsor of the study), observed, for example, that "technology by itself is relatively useless." Technology in the retail environment only works, he said, if it helps stimulate various shopping behaviors that lead to sales.

A case in point is the Apple Store, which respondents rated well above all others as the retailer delivering the best shopping experience.

According to Dechert-Hampe's Ball, some might question how the research could show technology being down on the list of ways to improve the shopping experience when Apple, a store that totally revolves around the use and sale of technology, tops the list of retailers that get it.

"People are underestimating Apple's mastery of the fundamentals," he said. "If it were just the technology, Circuit City and CompUSA would have been on this list instead of in Chapter 11. I think the ability to experience the products that Apple provides; the knowledgeable brand advocates that are there in the store; the encouragement to have you be completely immersed in the technology and the applications; the product themselves; and right down to the customer service provided by the Genius Bar are all outstanding examples of Apple understanding and really maximizing the fundamentals of the shopper experience. Now they are also using technology because that's their product to do it in a very differentiated way."

An Executive Summary of the "RETAIL:NEXT: Investing in the Shopper Experience" study, can be downloaded at:
http://www.retailwire.com/Downloads/ShopperExp_ExecSum.pdf

Survey methodology: This survey was fielded in February, 2010 by Dechert-Hampe Consulting. This was an internet survey covering the RetailWire community and other industry participants. The survey results are a composite of data from 479 responses. The respondent population breaks down as: 31.5% Manufacturer/Vendor; 32.0% Retailer/Wholesaler/Distributor; 20.7% Consultant /Research/Design; 15.8% Tech Provider/Agency.

This is an opinion survey of retail industry observers and participants. No consumers were interviewed and the survey does not purport to predict actual consumer behavior. While the survey sample is sizeable, no tests of statistical significance were employed in reporting the results and the results should not be construed as business advice or guidance by RetailWire or Dechert-Hampe Consulting. The study was underwritten by Intel.

About RetailWire
RetailWire is the retail industry's premier online discussion forum. RetailWire goes beyond conventional headline news reporting. Each business morning, RetailWire editors pick news topics worthy of commentary by its "BrainTrust" panel of industry experts, and the general RetailWire membership. The results are virtual round tables of industry opinion and advice covering key dynamics and issues affecting the retailing industry.

About Dechert-Hampe
Dechert-Hampe & Company is an independent management consulting firm specializing in Sales and Marketing services. DHC works to help clients succeed through Sales & Marketing solutions that result in tangible change, measurable results, a competitive advantage and a return on their sales & marketing investments.

About Intel
By enabling more content, mobility and capabilities than ever before, Intel provides many advantages in a rapidly changing world. With advanced silicon building blocks, industry standard platforms, modular infrastructure solutions and ecosystem support, Intel can help deliver a more compelling digital life- style. Intel, the world leader in silicon innovation, develops technologies, products and initiatives to continually advance how people work and live.

Additional information about Intel in Retail and Transaction Solutions is available at http://www.intel.com/go/ic

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