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The top three home improvement retailers for customer satisfaction are…

BY Marianne Wilson

A family-owned, regional home improvement chain is tops in customer satisfaction.

Menards ranks highest in customer satisfaction among home improvement retailers for the first time, according to the J.D. Power 2018 Home Improvement Retailer Satisfaction Study. The Wisconsin-based company, which operates 300 stores in the Midwest, performs particularly well in the merchandise, price, and sales/promotions area of the study. Menards had an overall score of 836 (out of 1,000).

Ace Hardware, with a score of 832, ranks second, performing highest in staff and service. Lowe’s (828) ranks third, performing highest in merchandise and store facility. The Home Depot had a score of 818, followed by True Value, at 813. Ace Hardware had been on an 11-year run as the top scoring retailer in the study. In last year’s survey, Ace was first, Menards second, and Lowe’s third.

The J.D. Power study measures customer satisfaction with home improvement retailers by examining five factors (in alphabetical order): merchandise; price; sales and promotions; staff and service; and store facility. Satisfaction is measured on a 1,000-point scale.

The report also found that consumer spending on home improvement is on the rise, and is expected to increase 5.3% in 2018, to approximately $387 billion.

Here are some additional findings of the study:

The “two-minute warning”: From the time a customer enters a home improvement store, that person expects to receive assistance from a store employee within two minutes, otherwise, satisfaction begins to decline. Overall satisfaction declines significantly when a customer waits more than two minutes to have his/her question answered, compared with waiting less than two minutes (821 vs. 882, respectively).

Satisfaction drives loyalty: Among delighted customers (overall satisfaction scores of 901 and above), 80% say they “definitely will” repurchase from the retailer, compared with the study average of 48%.

Additionally, 83% of delighted home improvement retailer customers say they “definitely will” recommend the retailer to others, compared with the study average of 49%.

Delightful experience influences recommendations: Among delighted customers, the average number of positive recommendations is 4.0, compared with the study average of 2.6.

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Is Facebook Advertising Safe for Retailers?

BY Jeff Cunning

The news about Facebook and its issues with Cambridge Analytica has been widely reported, with Facebook coming under intense scrutiny and fire for the perceived inadequacy of its privacy controls that enabled the now defunct British consulting firm to harvest and use Facebook user data to influence the 2016 U.S. election. Specifically, users and lawmakers had serious questions about the accessibility of personal profile and user data on the social network. As a result, Facebook implemented a long list of initial changes, in an attempt to show how it is enhancing data privacy.

But what does this mean for retailers and the consumers they want to reach and engage on Facebook? Should they still have data privacy concerns?

In this case, the short answer is no. The good news for retailers is that the vast majority of data used to create social ads on Facebook is not the data at issue. As long as retailers comply with the separate — but similarly infamous — EU GDPR guidelines, most retailers will experience little to no changes with their Facebook advertising.

So far, the efficacy of Facebook advertising as a whole hasn’t experienced any significant downturn. For now, the direct impact on retailers includes only the removal of third-party targeting options previously available through Facebook’s audience targeting user interface. Retailers who are nervous about that loss should rest easy: there are no planned changes to or issues with Facebook’s core targeting products, enabling businesses to continue to run effective, and secure, social ad campaigns.

So what does this all mean? Facebook advertising is still safe for retailers and the consumers they want to reach. And retailers shouldn’t shy away from using the site to reach their target audiences. Recent findings from Goldman Sachs revealed that the data scandal had very little impact on the social network’s traffic, with the company noting that Facebook’s U.S. unique users on mobile rose seven percent year-on-year to 188.6 million in April, when the scandal was in full force. Time spent on Facebook also went up.

Social advertising on Facebook can be extremely impactful for retailers, enabling them to attract more customers, build better relationships and drive more conversions. This recent scandal seems to be the latest in a storied history of claims around the demise of Facebook that ultimately turn out to be fruitless. Facebook isn’t going anywhere, nor are its users. And retailers shouldn’t be going anywhere either.

Jeff Cunning is VP of Pattern89, whose social advertising platform combines the power of artificial intelligence with campaign automation, along with industry benchmark data, to help brands discover the best content for paid social.

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The retail categories excelling at personalization are…

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Consumers — especially Millennials — increasingly favor personalized products and experiences.

The top five retail categories that excel at offering personalized offerings are apparel and footwear, food and beverages, technology products, vacation and travel experiences, and household goods, according to “Made to Order: An analysis of U.S. consumers perceptions towards personalization,” a report from YouGov.

According to the data, 29% of American customers have personalized apparel or footwear, or food and beverages, respectively; 27% have customized technology products; 25% have created personalized travel and vacation and travel experiences, and 22% have customized household goods.

Interest in personalization is so high that the process is expected to have staying power in the current economy. One in 10 Americans (10%) consider personalization as a top interest, and overall, nearly one in three (30%) express some interest in the offering.

Millennials (40%) are most attracted to personalized merchandise and experiences. Thirty one percent of these shoppers are highly educated, and 31% posses $1,000 or more of monthly disposable income.

Part of the appeal of personalization is its ability to turn a product into a gift, allowing it to be both unique and special. This may be why 8% of Americans said they have personalized a product for someone else. These “gifters” make up 28% of personalizers in the U.S., and 52% of this group said they are willing to pay for premium personalization.

“The personalization economy will continue to grow and shape what consumers expect from products and services. Whether a brand already offers personalization or is still testing the waters, looking to what makes the consumer tick is the key, the study reported. “From an opportunity perspective, brands can get closer to their customers by using personalization as a transformative tool, one that turns a product into a shared experience using a brand’s resources and consumer’s sense of identity.”

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