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Survey: Empty shelves, long checkout lines among top threats to keeping customers

BY Marianne Wilson

Chicago — Nearly 70% of U.S. adults would avoid shopping at a retail store if they encountered empty shelves, according to a nationwide survey commissioned by Galleria Retail Technology Solutions, a leading provider of retail and category optimization solutions. Long checkout lines are another big turnoff (64%).

The study, conducted by telephone by Harris Interactive on behalf of Galleria, also found that women are more likely than men to avoid shopping at a particular retail store if they encounter empty shelves during their visit.

“As we approach Black Friday and the holiday shopping season, retailers need to note that making sure their shelves are fully stocked is critical when it comes to retaining loyal customers,” said Bryan Eckhoff, executive VP sales and account management for North America, Galleria. "The cost of empty shelves can be extremely high. Out-of-stocks can force consumers to migrate from a particular store, risking the loss of the value of an entire shopper’s basket, not just one product. Consistent out-of-stocks may force the permanent loss of that customer.”

Key survey findings include:

  • More than two out of three (68%) U.S. adults would avoid shopping at a particular retail store if they encountered empty shelves;
  • Women are more likely than men to say empty shelves would cause them to avoid shopping at a given store (73% versus 62% respectively); and
  • Nearly two out of three U.S. adults would shun a retail store due to:
    • Long check-out lines (64%)
    • Desired items out of stock (63%)
    • Difficulty finding desired items (62%).

“Statistics have shown that it costs five times more to obtain a new customer than to retain an existing customer,” Eckhoff said. “In the current U.S. economic climate when consumers are more cost conscious than ever, retailers should make every effort to ensure they have the right products, in the right place at the right time to keep their customers happy … and coming back.”

Galleria’s suite of retail optimization software can be utilized by retailers to determine the correct products and quantity of those products to stock in store based on actual consumer demand. This approach minimizes the chances of an item being out of stock, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. The retailer benefits from this with increased sales, minimizing unnecessary inventory and reducing wastage.

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Top 10 retailers for customer service

BY Katherine Boccaccio

Washington, D.C. — The NRF Foundation, the research and education arm of the National Retail Federation, has announced the top 10 retailers for excellent customer service selected by shoppers in the seventh annual NRF Foundation/American Express Customers’ Choice survey.

The survey, which asked 9,374 shoppers which retailer provides the best customer service, was conducted by BIGresearch.

According to shoppers, the ten finalists for customer service, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Amazon.com
  • J.C. Penney
  • Kohl’s Department Stores
  • Lands’ End
  • L.L.Bean
  • Newegg
  • Nordstrom
  • Overstock.com
  • QVC
  • Zappos

The official ranking of each retailer in the top ten will be unveiled at NRF’s Annual Retail Industry Luncheon on January 17, 2012, during NRF’s 101st Annual Convention and Expo.

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Oracle: One in four consumers to start holiday shopping this week

BY Marianne Wilson

New York City — One in four consumers will start their holiday shopping this week, according to a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers conducted this fall by Oracle. The report, “Oracle Holiday Shopping Snapshot 2011,” finds that Black Friday and Cyber Monday still reign supreme when it comes to getting consumers out to shop.

In other findings:

  • Forty –three percent of consumers say they have already started their holiday shopping, while plenty will hold off until the last moment.
  • Twice as many men (11%) will wait until the final week of the season to shop, versus fewer than 5% of women.

No matter when consumers turn their attention to holiday shopping, retailers must be at the top of their game across all retail channels in order to capture sales, the report advises. Sixty-three percent consumers expect to do more than half of their shopping in stores, and that shopping is preceded by visiting e-commerce sites.

In all, 54% say they rely on websites to research and browse products before they buy.

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