Survey: Back-to-school retailers should learn customer service
Cincinnati – Retailers seeking to attract back-to-school shoppers should make sure they are well schooled in the ins and outs of providing good customer service.
A new LoyaltyOne, Verde Group survey of 2,500 U.S. consumers shows that efficient service, more than price or product availability, drives store loyalty and repeat purchases for shoppers with kids younger than 18 at mass merchandise stores such as Walmart, Target and Staples.
Shoppers in households with kids younger than 18 are 19% more likely than the general population to say not having enough information available near a displayed item detracted from their shopping experience. These consumers spend $530 per quarter more at mass merchandisers than the general population.
Back-to-school shoppers also were 39% more likely to say their shopping experience was compromised when associates had a “not my department” attitude and 65% more likely to say a long checkout line detracted from their experience. In addition, these shoppers were 57% more likely to say waiting too long to be served detracted from their shopping experience.
Interestingly back-to-school shoppers were 26% less likely to say an associate not appreciating their business detracted from their experience and 11% less likely to cite not being treated with courtesy by an associate as a detraction.
Start-up shopping site rewards social influencers
Charlotte, N.C. – How do social influencers discover the latest hot retailers and products?
Yuno, a new social shopping e-commerce site, allows users to discover and shop for more than 70 million products, curates fashion, lifestyle, sports and technology products from retailers including Macy's, Best Buy, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Foot Locker.
Yuno's team of content curators monitors the latest trends and presents products from the company's retail partners to Yuno's community of online shoppers. In addition to providing users with cash back on every purchase, Yuno also rewards users with cash back every time someone in their Yuno social network sees what they purchased and decides to buy the same or related product. Yuno's social shopping experience also gives users the opportunity to "like," comment on, and recommend products to friends in their social network.
Ultimately, the most active Yuno users are positioned to receive up to 100% cash back on their purchases depending on their level of influence or "social capital" among their Yuno followers.
"At Yuno, our mission is to help everyday people enhance their lives based on who they are and who they know," said Yuno CEO Andre Walters. "With social media, the power to generate attention and to influence others' behavior is no longer limited to famous celebrities. We are all valuable in the world of commerce through word-of-mouth marketing, and we believe that value should be recognized in our everyday transactions by the companies we support."
Jet.com experience not yet first-class
When online shopping club Jet.com launched in July, the retailer’s CEO said he aspired to have 15 million customers spending $20 billion by 2020.
From the looks of the website, the prices and the shopping experience, Jet.com has a lot of work to do in order to get anywhere close to achieving that goal.
Retailing Today decided to go shopping on Jet.com to see how the startup compares to Walmart.com, Amazon.com and other online retailers. We ordered a variety of items, some everyday household staples such as plastic sandwich bags, toothpaste and dog food, to others not-so-ordinary: a French cookbook and a beer koozie.
Now this is a small representation of shopping at Jet.com and not at all a comprehensive analysis of its business model. But the exercise provided some insight into how Jet.com measures up against the big retailers online — especially when compared to the high standards set by Amazon.com.
Shopping experience: Shopping on Jet.com is not for the impatient. The search tool isn’t very accurate. Type in “The Sweet Life in Paris,” the title of a relatively new book by a famous chef, and Jet.com may find it, or it may not. If it does find the book as being available for order, it doesn’t show the publication date, or other important information such as item weight, ISBN number, hardback or paperback options, etc.
Let’s say you want to order some organic canned dog food. Jet.com’s offering of brands is limited. And the search results for the ones it does sell do not show the size of the can (is it 13 ounces? 15 ounces? Or the 3-ounce sample size?). If you want to add any item to your shopping cart, the information page is hard to read, presented in a very small font, a deficiency the seasoned e-commerce executives who founded Jet.com shouldn’t tolerate.
There are other missing and awkward features, too, such as large amounts of white space on the product landing pages, zero shipping information and no functionality for people to write reviews (basic functionality found on virtually e-commerce sites). Perhaps the Jet website is optimized for mobile, but that makes the experience for those shopping on a laptop less than optimal.
You get the feeling when you are shopping this website that it’s something that was thrown together quickly, by a bunch of retail newbies, and isn’t very credible. That’s not good for Jet.
Price: Jet.com claims that its prices beat Walmart and Amazon. But whether that’s true is up for debate. Since Jet.com launched, much has been written about how confusing Jet’s pricing structure is. The confusion comes from Jet not showing the actual price it is offering the product for and instead only displaying the amount of the discount. It’s nearly impossible to determine what price you are paying until checkout. That could get really annoying fast for shoppers.
Also, the prices for the items we ordered were not lower than Amazon.com. One cool feature on Jet.com is that it shows a link where you can compare their price against Amazon’s price in real time, but that link always showed that Amazon’s price was actually cheaper.
And while Retailing Today scored a free membership with Jet, there is typically a $49 annual membership fee to get access to those allegedly lower prices. At Amazon, you pay $99 for its Prime program, which comes with free two-day shipping on many items. Shipping was free for this Jet order. But the shipping costs would have been free on this order anyway because Amazon offers free shipping on many purchases over $35 to non-Prime shoppers. At Walmart, there is no such membership fee and shipping is also free on orders over $35.
Speed: The checkout process at Jet was quick and easy. And Jet does send you a confirmation email minutes after an order is placed. But that’s where the speediness ended. The items we ordered showed up between five and 17 days later. Jet did not properly manage customer expectations by sending email updates as to what the problem was with delivery. The beer koozie showed up in a padded envelope. The book was delivered in a huge box with no packing materials and it was damaged. The box of plastic bags looked like it had been run over by a car. The dog food bag was pierced with two holes.
In an era in which Amazon has trained shoppers to expect things to arrive in great shape within hours, Jet’s delivery system disappointed.
The verdict: Amazon remains the one to beat when it comes to shopping experience, price and speed. Walmart is a formidable competitor too. As for Jet, it’s to be expected that the company’s launch would be a little bumpy, but there are a lot of kinks to work out if Jet CEO Marc Lore intends to reach his goal of $20 billion by 2020.