Study Finds Retailers Look Past Economic Woes, Continue Customer-centric Strategies

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As economic news remains uncertain at best, retailers are sticking to strategies that focus on customer service in their stores. A new report from RSR Research finds that better performing retailers are not letting economic fears deter them from focusing on improving the in-store customer experience, turning especially to investments in tools to help employees provide more information to customers as they shop in stores.

The challenge is to do that in ways that don't increase costs.

According to a new RSR Research report, The Customer-centric Store: Benchmark 2008, released today, only 21% of retail survey respondents ranked the economy as a top-3 business challenge for stores. The survey was conducted in February and March of 2008, during a period when retailers were announcing very sluggish fourth quarter results.

Instead, retailers are focused on improving customer service without increasing payroll costs (56% of respondents ranked this as a top-3 challenge), and creating more consistent in-store execution (50%). Survey respondents are turning to tools to help employees provide a better in-store experience, with 90% indicating this as a priority vs. 67% in a similar study conducted a year ago.

"With online competing against the store experience - and winning, according to the American Consumer Satisfaction Index - retailers have to find ways to improve the in-store experience if they want to stay competitive," says Paula Rosenblum, Managing Partner at RSR Research and the report's author. "The challenge is to do that in ways that don't increase costs."

RSR's new publication, The Customer-centric Store: Benchmark 2008, sponsored by Reflexis, Teradata, and SAP, finds that retailers are turning to technology tools to help improve the store experience, with particular focus on ways to provide more information to employees and customers as part of the in-store shopping experience. Unfortunately, past investments in store technology infrastructure prevent retailers from moving quickly on employee-facing and customer-facing technology investments, the number one internal barrier sited by respondents.

To obtain a complimentary copy of the report, click here or follow this link:
http://www.retailsystemsresearch.com/_document/summary/517

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Paula Rosenblum
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