Consumers in the USA say that product quality, good customer service, reasonable prices and product availability (in that order) are the main reasons for choosing one retailer over others, leaving membership of customer loyalty programmes a lot further down the list, according to a recent survey of 800 consumers conducted by NOP Research for Accenture.
Some 91% of survey respondents said that product quality was an important reason for choosing one retailer over another. At the same time, the majority of respondents (85%) also said that customer service is an important factor. Perhaps not surprisingly, the same number of respondents said that reasonable pricing is also an important factor, followed closely by product availability (82%).
The survey uncovered a number of other findings that relate to consumers' choice of retailer. As Accenture puts it, "bricks are still more popular than clicks". More than three-quarters (79%) of the consumers interviewed said they planned to shop in department stores, specialty stores and/or local retailers, while only 10% said they plan to shop online.
It is also vitally important to have the desired product in stock. When respondents were asked what they would do if a store ran out of a gift item they wanted to buy, but the store could guarantee its delivery before the holidays, only 25% said they would still purchase the item from that store, compared to 39% who said they would go to another store to find the item. Only 13% said they would ask the store to call them when the item was back in stock and purchase it then.
Loyalty low down
Like the internet, loyalty programmes did not appear to persuade great numbers of the survey's respondents either; fewer than one-third (32%) said that membership of loyalty programmes would lead them to choose one retailer over another.
But when asked to define the one thing that would improve their holiday shopping experience, 51% chose an increased number of sales assistants/check-out operators, followed by more items in-stock (23%), a guaranteed delivery date for out-of-stock items (14%) and better-organised displays (10%).
"Our findings confirm that consumers are willing to spend more on what they believe are high quality goods but, at the same time, they are increasingly demanding better customer service," warned Janet Hoffman, a partner in Accenture's Retail & Consumer Practice. "Smart retailers will investigate what customer service means to their target consumers, and deliver that in addition to high quality products."