News

Americans use smartphones before, during and after in-store visits

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Toronto, Ontario, Canada — A recent survey of more than 6,500 U.S. consumers found that Americans consult their social media apps before, during and after retail store visits.

The survey, conducted by customer experience management solution-provider Empathica, found that mobile and social customer experience strategies are becoming more important than ever for brands, with nearly three in four consumers using Facebook to make retail and restaurant decisions.

The findings also showed that 27% of smartphone owners consult reviews before making purchases, and another 55% use their mobile devices to check prices while shopping in-store. Other popular mobile actions include scanning a QR code (34%) and writing a review (9%).

“Today’s consumers routinely perform a variety of in-store activities on smartphones and mobile devices,” said Dr. Gary Edwards, chief customer officer, Empathica. “Whether it’s comparing prices or scanning a QR code for a discount, brands that ignore the use of mobile technology in customer and guest experiences will miss key opportunities to connect with a large pool of potential brand advocates.”

The Empathica Consumer Insights Panel also showed that consumers are relying on social media as an important tool in decision-making. Nearly three-quarters of consumers use Facebook to make retail or restaurant decisions, while half of consumers have tried a new brand due to a social media recommendation.

For retailers and restaurants that post all user-generated content online, negative reviews don’t necessarily dissuade consumers from trying a brand, especially if it has a generally positive online presence. Only 26% of consumers indicated that they would definitely avoid shopping at a store if they first read a negative online review.

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • More than a third of survey respondents (37%) have visited a brand’s webpage using a mobile phone;
  • Although 55% of consumers are willing to “like” brands on Facebook, women (64%) tend to use the “like” button more than men (47%); and
  • Approximately 89% of people who have shared a positive experience with a brand via social media in the last three months also “liked” a brand on Facebook; only 36% of those who have not shared a positive experience with a brand via social media in the last three months “liked” a brand on Facebook.

Eighty-two percent of consumers are willing to engage retail and restaurant brands in online conversations if they believe it will improve future experiences, but only 62% believe that brands monitor online conversations and just 30% think that brands act on customer feedback.

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STORE SPACES

Verizon store design recognized for green building design

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Basking Ridge, N.J. — Verizon Wireless said Tuesday that its green retail store design has achieved pre-certification in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Volume Program.

Verizon Wireless is one of only eight retailers in the United States and the only wireless company to achieve pre-certification from the USGBC, according to the company.

Under the LEED Volume Program, any Verizon Wireless Communication Store constructed using the pre-certified design will earn a LEED Silver or higher rating. The company has begun certifying stores under the program, building upon its portfolio of 95 stores rated under the LEED for Commercial Interiors rating system.

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OPERATIONS

Efficiency upgrades reduce energy costs $1.2 million annually for 621 7-Eleven stores

BY Marianne Wilson

Henderson, Nev. — Efficiency upgrades at 621 7-Eleven stores in California, Washington, and Oregon, will result in an anticipated energy savings of approximately $1.2 million annually.

The upgrades were completed by Castrovilla, a subsidiary of Blue Earth, an energy efficiency and renewable energy services company. The project involved the installation of energy efficient electronically commutated motors, anti-sweat heater controls, evaporator fan controls, gaskets, door closers and strip curtains.

Castrovilla also secured approximately $1.3 million in rebates from various West Coast utilities. The utility incentives offset 100% of both the material and installation costs, which resulted in no out of pocket costs for 7-Eleven. The projected energy savings exceed 9 million kWh and will reduce energy expenses some $9.5 million over the effective useful life of the equipment.

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