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Study: Retail personalization efforts not connecting with shoppers

BY CSA STAFF

Despite all the attention being given to retail customization and personalization, most consumers see their shopping journeys as marred by inconsistency and impersonal service offerings.

Although 93% of retail executives say service personalization is a strategic focus, only one-quarter of consumers feel they receive a consistent, personal experience across channels, according to findings from personalization technology provider TimeTrade,

TimeTrade recently surveyed 100 C-level retail executives and compared their responses to results from its State of Retail 2016 consumer study. Most retail-decision makers (69%) believe their organizations already provide a consistent personalized experience for every customer.

These numbers contrast markedly with results of the consumer study, which found that only 26% of customers feel they receive a personalized retail experience across channels. Other key findings include:

· Only 23% of retail decision makers plan to undertake initiatives for personalization in the next 18 months, while 8% plan to do nothing at all.

· Among organizations planning improvements, training store associates was noted as the top priority (83%).

· In terms of experience improvement, the physical store is a top priority for retailers, with 45% of decision-makers ranking it ahead of other channels. Social media came in second at 19%, Web experience at 14% and call centers at 11%.

· About half (51%) of consumers ranked call centers as having the poorest experience, followed by in-store with 26% of the vote and social with 23%.

· When asked if they would be willing to schedule in-store appointments with a store associate, 59% of consumers said yes.

"While today's retailers seem to recognize the importance of delivering a personalized cross-channel experience, it's clear that their approach is not resonating with shoppers or meeting their growing expectations," said Gary Ambrosino, CEO of TimeTrade. "Today's shoppers are more demanding than ever before. To remain successful in this environment, brands must work to better understand consumer demands and reexamine and evolve their approach to ensure that service is prompt, personalized and consistent across channels."

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Study: How to boost store conversion and traffic

BY CSA STAFF

Retailers are always asking how they can increase the numbers of shoppers who visit and buy goods at their stores.

According to a study from store traffic and conversion measurement provider HeadCount, “In-store Traffic and Conversion Study: Retailers Find Keys to Impressive ROI,” the answer lies in combining data-driven coaching with analytics.

HeadCount conducted seven discrete experiments spanning four retail verticals and more than 600 stores to measure the effect of data-driven coaching of store managers and the application of analytics on store traffic and conversion. Managers were provided with customer data and given specific instructions on how to interpret and apply the data to their store activities. In particular, researchers focused on traffic productivity, or sales generated per traffic count.

Aggregate results across all seven experiments showed the test group had a net sales productivity improvement of 537 basis points compared to the control group. That is equivalent to a $0.67 sales gain on every traffic count logged.

Across the four individual retail verticals that were included in the study, housewares had the highest net sales productivity improvement of 772 basis points, or $.1.01 sales gain per traffic count. Following were consumer electronics (652/$0.81), interactive media (441/$0.56) and apparel (210/$0.26).

Researchers also tested a short-form daily traffic and conversion scorecard which laid out the previous day’s traffic and conversion trends by hour, indicating where loss was occurring. The scorecard was given to store managers every day at 9 a.m. Test managers reported this “push” reporting was much more convenient than pulling data from the Web or gaining access to it via a portal, making the scorecards much more likely to be reviewed.

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Big Lots makes big splash with profit growth, healthy sales

BY CSA STAFF

Another value retailer has posted a stellar first quarter, outshining traditional department stores and many specialty stores. Big Lots Inc. surpassed Wall Street expectations with net income and revenue performance that one major presidential candidate might term “huge.”

The discounter reported net income of $38.66 million, a 20% gain from $32.31 million the same quarter a year earlier, or 82 cents a share (excluding some items), topping the 70 cents projected by analysts. Big Lots also raised its annual forecast for earnings to as much as $3.50 a share. It had previously targeted no more than $3.35.

Net sales rose a better-than-expected 2% to $1.31 billion from $1.28 billion. Same-store sales increased 3%, the ninth consecutive quarterly increase.

“I'm very pleased with our first quarter results,” said David Campisi, CEO and president of Big Lots. “First quarter comps increased for the ninth consecutive quarter and were at the high end of our guidance range. Jennifer (Big Lots’ core customer persona) continues to respond positively to our strategic focus on ownable and winnable merchandise categories, improved merchandise presentations and more consistent in-store execution.”

Big Lots forecast same store sales growth from flat to 2% in the second quarter and low single digits for the full fiscal year. The retailer also expects full-year total sales to be up slightly.

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