Big Box Retailers are Earning Visits on Price, But Losing on Great Experiences Say Majority of American Consumers

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Although almost all consumers shop big box retailers, Empathica Consumer Insights Panel found only 38 percent of consumers report that big box retail employees appear to be enjoying their jobs.

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Empathica Inc., a leading global provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions to the world’s most respected multi-unit enterprises in food service, retail, banking, petro and hospitality sectors, announced today that its Consumer Insights Panel survey of more than 6,500 U.S. consumers found that nearly all U.S. consumers (93%) 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%). Other important factors to U.S. consumers include location convenience (12%) and a wide selection of products (10%). 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.”

Big Box Shortcomings, According to Consumers

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, added 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” said Edwards. “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,” said Edwards. “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.”

For more information on the results of this study, visit http://www.empathica.com/consumer-insights/wave-1-2012-key-trends/.

About the Empathica Consumer Insights Panel:

The Empathica Consumer Insights serves as an authoritative voice on consumer based economic indicators; the retail, financial services and restaurant industries; consumer shopping intentions and customer satisfaction as reported by thousands of consumers in the U.S. and Canada. Results from Empathica’s Consumer Insights, led by Dr. Gary Edwards and Empathica’s Consumer Insights team, are published several times a year. The results are based on outbound Internet surveys with Empathica’s growing Insights Panel, derived from more than 30 million consumer surveys per year. Results have been weighted to reflect latest Census distributions in the U.S. and in Canada, including Region, Gender, Age and Income.

Aforementioned data is reported by the Empathica Consumer Insights Panel – Wave 1 2012.

About Empathica:

Empathica provides Customer Experience Management programs to more than 200 of the world's leading brands, ranging from multi-unit retailers, to banks and restaurants. Its rich analysis of survey data using state-of-the-art surveying and dashboard reporting software allows for performance-improvement solutions, evidence-based marketing insights, and customer experience management consulting. Annually, Empathica's 30 million customer surveys in 25 languages reach more than 70,000 locations. A privately-held organization, Empathica is headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, has an office in Birmingham, England, and U.S. executive consultants in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Bozeman, Mont. For more information about deriving actionable insights that enhance a brand's operational excellence, visit Empathica at http://www.empathica.com.

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Meghan Reilly
Walker Sands Communications
312-445-9926
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Bruce Warren
Empathica
905-542-9001 242
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