OPERATIONS

Survey: Most big-box shoppers believe their feedback doesn’t matter

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Toronto — A study of big-box retail consumers, released Thursday, found that only two in five consumers believe that retailers value their input, and just 29% believe it is acted upon.

According to the Consumer Insights Panel survey conducted by customer experience management solution provider Empathica Inc., 85% of the 6,500 consumers surveyed have provided some form of feedback to big-box retailers, yet only 46% believe that brands actually use this feedback to make constructive changes to the customer experience.

In addition, only 52% believe that feedback is shared with individual locations – even though the majority of consumers (81%) feel that feedback should not only be shared with local managers, but with all of the brand’s employees.

The shortfall of confidence in brands’ willingness to implement changes rooted in customer feedback is a serious concern for retailers, said Empathica. In fact, 83% of consumers agree or strongly agree that they would be more loyal to a brand if they knew the brand would act on their feedback.

“Our research proves that consumers really do want to provide feedback and engage in conversations with brands,” said Dr. Gary Edwards, chief customer officer, Empathica. “But at the same time, they are clearly disappointed by not having any visibility into what happens afterwards. Feedback remains a one-way street and what consumers are yearning for is two-way dialogue. They want to know that their feedback is being acted upon in ways that will drive meaningful changes to the customer experience at the locations they frequent.”

The Empathica Consumer Insights Panel also revealed key insights into the motivations and delivery methods that drive customer feedback. Not surprisingly, an overwhelming two-thirds of consumers prefer to share feedback online. The next most popular feedback delivery method was in person, but this was reported by only 13% of consumers.

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FINANCE

Kroger net income rises in Q1, boosts outlook

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Cincinnati — The Kroger Co. reported Thursday that net income in the first quarter rose to $439.4 million, from $432.3 million last year.

The operator of namesake stores as well as Ralphs, Food 4 Less and others, also said it authorized a $1 billion share buyback.

Sales during the period were $29.06 billion, up from $27.46 billion last year but missing Wall Street’s expected $29.16 billion. Same-store sales rose 4.2%, the grocer’s 34th straight quarter of growth.

Based on the strong first quarter, the company lifted its 2012 outlook.

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FINANCE

Pier 1 Imports sales and profit rise in Q1

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Fort Worth, Texas — Pier 1 Imports reported Thursday that net income for the quarter ended May 26 rose to $17.8 million, from $14.1 million in the year-ago period.

Sales increased 7.9% to $361.1 million from $334.6 million last year, and same-store sales rose 7.2% during the first quarter on top of last year’s 10.2% gain.

“The results demonstrate the effectiveness of our merchandising strategies and in-store execution, as well as strong full-price selling,” said Alex Smith, president and CEO. “We are excited about the upcoming launch of our e-commerce site.”

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