TECHNOLOGY

These retail brands are tops in brand engagement

BY Marianne Wilson

Soaring customer expectations are creating an increasingly challenging environment for brands seeking engagement.

That’s according to the 22nd annual Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, which recognizes the brands that receive the highest loyalty and engagement assessments and surpass competitors for "delighting" customers.

“Brand engagement’ is a measure of how well a brand meets expectations consumers hold for the path-to-purchase drivers in a given category,” said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys. "Those drivers and expectations can be measured against a Category Ideal (100%) with brands best meeting consumers’ expectations generating greater loyalty and profits. Brands that cannot meet expectations lose customers and market share.”

This year, the Brand Keys study examined 83 categories including 740 brands – everything from OTC allergy medications to fast-casual dining to home improvement retail. Here are the top scoring retail brands:

Natural food stores: Trader Joe’s

Online retailer: Amazon

Apparel store: Zara

Department store: Nordstrom

Quick-serve restaurant: Chick-fil-A

Casual/fast casual dining:Panera Bread; Five Guys

Warehouse club: Costco

Discounter: Walmart

Home improvement: The Home Depot

Sporting goods: Big 5 Sporting Goods

Out-of-home coffee: Dunkin’ Donuts

To see a complete list of all the brands, click here.

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TECHNOLOGY

Study: Omnichannel moves beyond initiative stages to execution

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

The omnichannel evolution has begun — and more retailers are adopting the business strategy to better meet shoppers’ needs.

That’s according to “Retail Insight: Moving Beyond Omnichannel,” a report from SPS Commerce and conducted by Retail Systems Research. The study, which is based on responses from more than 500 retailers, suppliers and logistics firms worldwide, said that more than 35% of retailers are on track with their omnichannel execution, up nearly 200% year-over-year.

Delving deeper into the actions of retail winners (defined as companies growing 4.5% or more annually), this group continues to advance their lead in omnichannel “by forging closer collaboration with their trading community to deliver the speed and consistency across channels that consumers want and expect,” said Nikki Baird, managing partner at Retail Systems Research.

Consumers are definitely calling the shots in this increasingly omnichannel market. In fact, more than 75% of respondents cited consumer demands as the top factor shaping their business over the next five years.

“Shopper demands for a personalized and seamless experience across all channels are outpacing the retail industry’s ability to keep pace,” said Peter Zaballos, senior VP and chief marketing officer at SPS Commerce. “The findings from this year’s industry benchmark report demonstrate the urgency of streamlining order fulfillment, the importance of real-time inventory visibility and the critical role accurate item information plays in delivering an engaging consumer shopping experience.”

Of course, there are still challenges to overcome. For example, order fulfillment execution continues to be difficult due to dramatically increasing order volume and complexity. Specifically, legacy systems are the top factor hindering omnichannel execution among 29% of companies, data revealed.

It is a factor that needs to be solved with 53% of respondents expecting increased online orders; 43% expecting increased item attribute sets; 55% expecting assortment expansion, and 40% planning to increase drop ship vendors, the study said.

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TECHNOLOGY

Americans pull back Super Bowl spending

BY Marianne Wilson

American consumers are ready to celebrate the Super Bowl, but they don’t plan on spending as much as they did last year.

Consumers will spend an average of $75 for a total of $14.1 billion as an estimated 188.5 million watch the Atlanta Falcons face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI on February 5, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual Super Bowl Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics.

The spending is down from an average of $82 and a total of $15.5 billion last year. Viewership remains about the same as last year’s 188.9 million.

Of the 76% of those surveyed who plan to watch the game, 80% say they will purchase food and beverages, 11% will buy team apparel or accessories, and 8% will splurge on new televisions to watch the game at home.

Bars and restaurants can also expect a good turnout with 12.4 million people planning to head out to watch at their favorite local spot, according to the survey.

Over 43% of viewers say the most important part is the game itself, 24% cite the commercials,15 percent want to hanging out with friends, and 12% of say the half-time show is their top highlight.

The survey also found that 78% of viewers watch the commercials for entertainment and 18% say they make them more aware of the advertiser’s brand, But only 10% say the commercials influence them to purchase products.

The survey, which asked 7,591 consumers about their Super Bowl plans, was conducted January 4 – 11, before it was known which teams would compete in the game.

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