OPERATIONS

Study: One-in-four e-commerce purchases have inadequate shipping

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York – Nearly a quarter of packages purchased online and tested during a six-month period did not meet the basics for adequate shipping. In a study spanning six months of data, conducted from October 2013 to March 2014, StellaService Analysts placed 2,855 orders with 125 leading online retailers to measure the quality of the shipping and returns experience.

Retailers fell short in package fit (10%) and damaged packages (10%), which were the main causes of missed opportunities. These orders were then returned to the retailers. The total number of returns evaluated was 2,720. Of note, if a refund was not issued within 28 days, those orders were excluded from the study. If the retailer didn’t accept a return, (in some cases the retailer said to keep the item) those orders were also excluded.

Nearly one-in-three retailers in the study did not meet the basic criteria for any of the returns initiated by StellaService analysts. Still, several retailers, including Mr. Porter, Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers, scored high marks, particularly in delivering orders in consistently high-quality packaging.

“Leading retailers know that delivery and returns are key areas where they must differentiate themselves in order to win customers, and we are starting to see retailers make investments in those areas,” said Kevon Hills, StellaService VP of research.

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Wal-Mart to open 30 and remodel 55 China stores; open DCs

BY Dan Berthiaume

Bentonville, Ark. – Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to open 30 new China-based stores and remodel 55 of its 400 existing stores there during 2014, as well as open new China distribution centers. The China activity is part of Wal-Mart’s larger three-year plan for growth in the country.

Wal-Mart will spend $93 million on the store remodeling. The activity this year will be the first major initiative from new China CEO Sean Clarke.

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Trader Joe’s is consumers’ favorite grocery store

BY Dan Berthiaume

Boulder, Colo. – Trader Joe’s is North America’s favorite grocery retailer based on satisfaction. A study of more than 6,200 consumers by Market Force Information, also found that Publix and Aldi were ranked second and third.

All three were lauded for their courteous and fast service, as well as the quality of their private-label brands. For the rankings, Market Force asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their most recent grocery shopping experience and their likelihood to refer that grocer. The results were averaged to attain a Composite Loyalty Score, which reveals the intersection between overall satisfaction and the likelihood of recommending a store to others.

Trader Joe’s took the No. 1 spot out of the 12 grocery chains studied, with a score of 82%, and was trailed by Publix with 80%. Aldi, Costco and Hy-Vee rounded out the top five. This is the second year in a row that Trader Joe’s ranked first and Publix ranked second. Whole Foods and Wegman’s, which made it into the top five in the 2013 study, scored well, but failed to garner enough votes to earn a top spot on this year’s list, while brands like Safeway moved up considerably.

Publix and Trader Joe’s scored highest in many of the operational attributes that matter most to consumers, including courteous service, fast checkouts and inviting atmosphere. Aldi was the clear leader in low prices, ShopRite received the highest marks for its sales and promotions, and Walmart was lauded for offering a one-stop shopping experience.

Market Force also looked at consumer preferences across categories such as produce, meat and private-label products. Costco trumped Publix and H-E-B for highest-quality meat. Publix won on offering the highest-quality produce, with H-E-B a close second. Trader Joe’s dominated in categories related to healthy food and nutrition. It scored an 83% for its natural and organic food choice, far ahead of Publix with 31%. It also led by a wide margin in providing nutrition and health information and instituting sustainable policies. The honors for best private-label brand products also went to Trader Joe’s, followed by Aldi and H-E-B.

Market Force drilled down to identify the four most popular grocers in each region. Walmart led in all regions, except for the Northeast where ShopRite was a strong favorite. Publix was the second-favorite in the South, Kroger in the Midwest, Safeway in the West and Sobeys in Canada.

• Nationally: Walmart, Kroger, Publix, Aldi
• Northeast: ShopRite, Walmart, Stop & Shop, Giant
• South: Walmart, Publix, Kroger, H-E-B
• Midwest: Walmart, Kroger, Hy-Vee, Aldi
• West: Walmart, Safeway, Costco, WinCo Foods
• Canada: Walmart, Sobeys, Loblaws, No Frills

“Competition is fierce and growing in the grocery sector with regional players going national and national players moving toward neighborhood market concepts,” said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. “It’s only getting more difficult to attract and keep customers, and being adequate is no longer good enough. We’ve found that delighted customers are three times more likely to recommend a grocery store than those who had just an OK experience. This tells us that chains that truly wow their customers on their first visit can establish brand advocates who go on to recommend the grocer to friends and family.”

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