OPERATIONS

Study: Grocers Publix, Trader Joe’s top experience rankings; Office Depot among most improved

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Waban, Mass. — Survey results released Wednesday by Temkin Group revealed that Publix and Trader Joe’s ranked the highest among 246 companies in terms of customer experience.

The 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings, which polled 10,000 U.S. consumers, were dominated by grocery chains and food purveyors. After Public and Trader Joe’s was Aldi, and rounding out the top 12 were Chick-fil-A, Amazon.com, Sam’s Club, H.E.B., Dunkin’ Donuts, Save-a-Lot, Sonic Drive-In, Little Caeser’s and Ace Hardware.

The five lowest scoring organizations were US Airways, Time Warner Cable, Days Inn, Empire BCBS, and 21st Century. The companies that made the largest improvement over 2012 were Citibank, TriCare, TD Ameritrade, Office Depot, EarthLink, Hardees and Regions Bank.

Temkin said in this year’s ratings, 37% of companies earned "good" or "excellent" scores, while 28% are rated as "poor" or "very poor." Companies with at least a "good" rating grew by nine percentage points since 2012 and by 21 points since 2011. Of the 203 companies that are included in both the 2012 and 2013 Temkin Experience Ratings, 57% firms had at least a modest increase.

"It’s wonderful to see that customer experience is improving, although many companies still have a long way to go," states Bruce Temkin, managing partner of Temkin Group.

The survey examines customer experience across 19 industries: airlines, appliance makers, auto dealers, banks, car rental agencies, computer makers, credit card issuers, fast food chains, grocery chains, health plans, hotel chains, insurance carriers, Internet service providers, investment firms, parcel delivery services, retailers, software firms, TV service providers, and wireless carriers. It evaluates three areas of customer experience: functional, accessible and emotional.

Among other key findings:

  • RadioShack and Apple Store underperformed the retail industry averages;
  • Leaders in functional experience were Publix, Trader Joe’s and Costco;
  • The leader in accessible experience was Ace Hardware; and
  • The leader in emotional experience was Publix.
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OPERATIONS

Report: Always-on consumers, showrooming among 2013 retail trends

BY Katherine Boccaccio

New York — A new report by Experian Marketing Services finds that several key retail trends will impact how marketers shape their messages in 2013.

According to the 2013 Digital Marketer Report, consumers today are multi-device and multichannel shoppers, forcing digital marketers to adapt and evolve their message to reach consumers across channels and all along the path to purchase.

It also found that 74% of marketers surveyed have either coordinated, or are in the process of coordinating, customer interactions among both online and offline channels.

“The way consumers gain information from brands — the means by which they get it, even the ways in which they process it — is constantly evolving given the complexity of our multichannel world and evolving consumer behavior driven by economic variables,” said Bill Tancer, general manager of global research for Experian Marketing Services. “With the recent retail numbers coming out of January, retailers can anticipate consumer hesitation, making it imperative that marketers create integrated customer experiences and maximize digital marketing opportunities and return on investment.”

Among the key findings:

  • Showrooming will continue: Comparison shopping continues to be strong as shopping sites are the third largest driver of traffic to other retail sites. In fourth quarter 2012, shopping sites accounted for 19% of referral traffic on average to the top 500 retail sites;
  • Economic uncertainty will also continue, but online retailers will still benefit as consumers search for better deals and consumer awareness continues to improve with more retail information readily available;
  • Consumers are “always on”: Fifty-nine percent of adults say they email from at least two different devices during a seven-day period. Nearly one-third of adults under age 35 email from three or more devices each week; and
  • Maturing mobile market: 48% of adults ages 18 to 24 say that a conversation via text message is just as meaningful as a telephone call. A similar share of adults ages 25 to 34 feel the same way; in a given month, 8% of all smartphone owners report having shopped from their phones, whereas nearly 40% of tablet owners say they shopped from their tablets.
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FINANCE

Target Q4 slips but tops Street; will open 124 stores in Canada by yearend

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Minneapolis — Target Corp. reported Wednesday a profit of $961 million for the fourth quarter, down from $981 million in the year-ago period. The profit slip reflected expenses related to its Canadian market entry along with a spending slowdown during the holiday period. It was Target’s weakest holiday season performance since 2008. But its adjusted results beat analysts’ estimates and it forecast first-quarter earnings above Wall Street’s view. (For commentary on Target’s results, click here.)

“We believe these results position us well to deliver on significant plans in 2013, including completion of the largest store opening program in our company’s history with 124 stores in Canada and additional Target and CityTarget locations in the U.S., investing in new processes and technology that will improve our guests’ multichannel experience and closing the sale of our credit card receivables.” said Gregg Steinhafel, chairman, president and CEO, Target.

On a conference call with analysts, Target said it will open its first 24 Canadian stores in April, with a total of 124 locations planned by yearend. In the U.S., plans call for 15 to 20 new stores, including three CityTarget locations, and some 100 remodels.

"We expect to open many more new stores this year than in any year in our history," Steinhafel said during the call.

Target’s revenue in the fourth quarter climbed 7% to $22.73 billion, from $21.29 billion in the same period last year. Analysts forecast $22.69 billion in revenue. Industry experts said the chain’s holiday showing was partially hurt by the disappointing performance of its collection of gifts sold in partnership with Neiman Marcus. The line launched on Dec. 1, and Target sharply discounted the goods before Christmas Eve.

As previously reported, sales at U.S. stores increased 6.8% to $22.4 billion in the fourth quarter from $20.9 billion last year. Same-store sales inched up 0.4%.

"We’re pleased with Target’s fourth quarter performance, particularly in the face of a highly promotional retail environment and continued consumer uncertainty," Steinhafel said.

For the full-year, sales increased 5.1% to $72.0 billion from $68.5 billion in 2011, with a 2.7% increase in comparable-store sales combined with the contribution from new stores and one additional accounting week.

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