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Study: Associates Are The Trump Card In Nurturing Supermarket Loyalty

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Last updated on June 14th, 2024 at 09:46 am

The Retail Feedback Group (RFG), a provider of actionable stakeholder feedback, has released its 2015 U.S. Supermarket Experience Study. The research, now in its eighth year, found that supermarkets continue to generate high satisfaction among their shoppers, scoring an average of 4.44 on a 5-point scale, where 5 is highest.

Shoppers who felt like a welcome guest (4.70) believed that store employees had food expertise (4.66) or encountered exceptional service (4.66) and handed out the highest overall trip satisfaction scores. All three show the significant impact that store associates can have on shopper satisfaction.

Additionally, several retailing fundamentals can greatly impact the overall trip experience and store satisfaction. Supermarkets performed well in some of these areas, yet show room for improvement in others. They include:

• Quality/Cleanliness: Supermarket shoppers rated quality/freshness of the food and groceries (4.47) followed by cleanliness of the store (4.44) as the two highest-rated core experience factors.

• Service: While shoppers gave high marks to the friendliness and attitude of the store personnel (4.43) and the speed and efficiency of checkout (4.41), helpfulness and knowledge of personnel (4.35) realized a lower rating, and availability of personnel to provide assistance if needed (4.26) received the lowest rating across all core experience factors.

• Value: The value for the money spent on this visit received the second lowest rating at 4.27.

• Variety: A mid-tier core experience factor was variety and selection of products at 4.38.

“Our findings show that two of the three lowest-rated areas among the core experience factors are people-related—helpfulness and knowledge of personnel and the availability of personnel to provide assistance,” said Doug Madenberg, RFG principal. “It is important to strengthen these areas, especially considering how store associates can positively influence overall satisfaction.”

Nothing detracts from a good experience at the supermarket more than unsanitary conditions, according to 69 percent of shoppers who say a dirty store really gets on their nerves. Two-thirds are highly irritated by unsanitary carts and baskets. At 64 percent, discourteous employees follow in third place.

Second-tier irritants are inaccurate price scans (44 percent) and an unpleasant odor in the seafood department (44 percent).

Considering all the ways in which consumers might interact with their primary supermarket using digital technology, at most half actually do so. The most common way is to check the digital circular (43 percent), followed by building online grocery lists (36 percent) and researching special online promotions (34 percent). Online services such as ordering groceries, reading blogs and getting nutritional advice receive little uptake across the entire population, but are distinctly more popular among Millennials, as are building digital grocery lists and researching special online promotions.

Supermarket shoppers continue to be highly engaged with social media. While the total share using one or more social media vehicles with at least some regularity remained flat at 83 percent, shoppers increased their usage across vehicles over the past year from an average of 2.9 different platforms in 2014 to 3.3 in 2015.

Up from 26 percent in 2014, 31 percent of supermarket shoppers are connected to their primary store on one or more social media platforms. Compared with the 83 percent who use social media, this still represents an opportunity gap of 52 percent. While down from 59 percent last year, working on closing the gap continues to be important for food retailers in the face of ever-growing competition and diminishing store and brand loyalty.

“Shoppers are changing the ways in which they interact with the supermarket pre-trip to increasingly include technology and social media,” said RFG Principal Brian Numainville. “This is especially true for the Millennial shopper. As this Millennial shopper base grows in numbers, older generations become more comfortable with technology and retailers improve and amplify their digital offerings, the adoption speed of using technology and social media when interacting with supermarkets will only accelerate.”

A summary of study highlights is available at retailfeedback.com. Grocery retailers can obtain a free copy of the full report or request an interview/presentation of the results from the principals of Retail Feedback Group at [email protected]. The study is based on a nationally representative study of 1,200 supermarket shoppers and was prepared in conjunction with 210 Analytics LLC.

About the author

Shelby Team

The Shelby Report delivers complete grocery news and supermarket insights nationwide through the distribution of five monthly regional print and digital editions. Serving the retail food trade since 1967, The Shelby Report is “Region Wise. Nationwide.”

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