The Retail Customer Dissatisfaction Study

February 28, 2008

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DISCUSSION TOPIC

Retail TouchPoints: New Study Reveals Sales Staff Driving Shopper Defections – 2/28/08

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TOPIC SUMMARY:

A recent study by The Verde Group and the Baker Retail Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School shows that sales staffs are the single biggest detriment to the shopping experience, resulting in more lost business and negative word of mouth than any other shopping problem. The Retail Customer Dissatisfaction Study also estimated that the defections caused by a lack of sales help or a poor associate experience ultimately results in a six percent loss of business for retailers.

Discussion questions: Are overburdened store associates a primary driver of poor customer service at retail? What can store managers do at the store level to engender friendly and helpful sales associates? Should more safeguards such as a “save desk” be set up to minimize these apparently widespread poor sales experiences?

My post:

The focus in recent years on short-term financial results has created an industry full of over-burdened store associates and front-line managers.  These people are not happy and this attitude translates to the customer in countless negative ways.

The only surprise is that these studies continue to be a surprise.  Retailers like The Container Store and Apple understand that the customer experience is always defined by the sales associate so they invest in compensation, initial and ongoing training, and make all decisions congruent with the brand vision. 

Let’s hope retailers are serious when they say that 2008 is the year they put employees and customer experience first on the investment priority list.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist

http://www.osoriogroup.com/

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GO TO THE FULL DISCUSSION AT RETAILWIRE.COM:
http://www.retailwire.com/Discussions/Sngl_Discussion.cfm/12787         

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Can L.L.Bean stores succeed outside of the Northeast?

February 27, 2008

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DISCUSSION TOPIC

L.L.Bean Takes First Steps Out of Northeast – 2/27/08

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TOPIC SUMMARY:

L.L.Bean already has a national franchise with consumers placing orders every day from the retailer’s catalogs and website. Now the chain is looking to build on the third piece of its multi-channel strategy by opening its first new stores outside the Northeast. Ultimately, the company is looking to open 32 new locations by 2012. It currently operates 12 stores in nine states as well as a number of outlet locations.

Discussion questions: What role do you see physical stores playing for L.L.Bean, a company that has established itself in catalog and online sales? Should there be concerns that a rapid expansion of its store base will somehow detract from the reputation L.L.Bean has built with consumers? What must it do to keep the brand experience consistent across all channels?

My post:

L.L.Bean’s terrific reputation and customer loyalty will be put to the test as they expand out of the Northeast.  The key will be how they train the far-flung managers and staff on the “L.L.Bean way.”  I would love to see them take a page from The Container Store’s playbook and provide that level of training and compensation to ensure truly indoctrinated and well-paid employees.  One more nationwide “experience” outdoor store is likely to struggle without fanatic employees.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist

http://www.osoriogroup.com/

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GO TO THE FULL DISCUSSION AT RETAILWIRE.COM:
http://www.retailwire.com/Discussions/Sngl_Discussion.cfm/12785       

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Celebrity Chefs Drive Grocery Sales

February 24, 2008

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DISCUSSION TOPIC

Retired Celebrity Chef Looks to Make Triumphant Return – 2/22/08

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TOPIC SUMMARY:

Television cooks, especially longtime British heroine Delia Smith, can massively increase product sales for retailers. Since her first version of How to Cheat at Cooking, published in 1971, Ms. Smith has sold some 19 million books – along with hundreds of thousands of the many ingredients and implements required for reproducing her dishes.

This time around, she is endorsing packaged and processed shortcut foods and ingredients for the first time. Her argument is not just that people are busy, busy, busy with far more important things to do and/or have simply not been taught how to cook. She also believes that they are intimidated by too many food shows on television with chefs doing things that mere mortals can’t even begin to contemplate attempting.

Britain’s grocers are frantically stocking their shelves with products mentioned. The publicity machine around the book, which lists some 100 “hidden servants,” is in full swing. The publisher has sent the relevant producers handy stickers labeling them “A Delia Cheat! Ingredient.”

Discussion questions: What do you think has been the impact of celebrity chefs and cookbook authors on U.S. grocery sales? Has the effect become more pronounced with the explosion of cooking shows on channels such as the Food Network? How can grocers capitalize more on their popularity?

My post:

Celebrity chefs, particularly from the Food Network, have had a massive impact on all things food-related in our country and around much of the world. Grocery stores (and restaurants) have done a reasonably good job of providing wanted, once-exotic, products and ingredients to even the most rural communities. Remember when there was only one or two kinds of each of the vegetables and fruits in the produce section?

Grocery chain buyers should continue to monitor the key celebrity chefs but most importantly, they need to listen to consumer requests and provide product, books, appearances, etc.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist

http://www.osoriogroup.com/

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GO TO THE FULL DISCUSSION AT RETAILWIRE.COM:
http://www.retailwire.com/Discussions/Sngl_Discussion.cfm/12767       

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Thank you for visiting my blog!  Please subscribe using the RSS button and comment on my postings.  Comments are the life-blood of any blog and I appreciate yours!


Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Results Released

February 20, 2008

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RETAILWIRE DISCUSSION TOPIC

Consumers Find Greater Satisfaction Online – 2/20/08

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TOPIC SUMMARY:

When it comes to satisfying customers, it appears as though online retailers have the edge, hands down, on brick-and-mortar operations.

The University of Michigan’s (UM) American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) for the fourth quarter of 2007 found that e-tailers scored an 83 on a scale of 100 compared to an overall rating of 71 for store operators.

Amazon.com topped the list of online retailers in the UM Index with a score of 88 followed by Newegg (87), Netflix (84), eBay (81) and Overstock.com (80). Newegg, Netflix and Overstock.com were included in the ACSI for the first time.

Among the physical store operators ranked in the UM study were Barnes & Noble (83), Publix (82), Borders (81), Costco (81), Nordstrom (80), Kohl’s (79), Dollar General (78), Walgreen (78), Office Depot (78), Target (77), J.C. Penney (77), CVS (77), Staples (77), Sam’s Club (77), Office Max (76), The Gap (75), Lowe’s (75), Kroger (75), TJX Companies (74), Supervalu (74), Best Buy (74), Rite Aid (73), Whole Foods (73), Sears Holdings including Kmart (72), Safeway (72), Circuit City (71), Winn-Dixie (71), Wal-Mart (68) and Home Depot (67).

The current economic environment makes it all the more important for retailers, regardless of channel, to satisfy consumers, according to Claes Fornell, director, National Quality Research Center, Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

Discussion questions: Why do consumers give higher satisfaction ratings to online merchants than brick-and-mortar retailers? Is there anything stores can borrow from websites to improve the consumer experience?

My post:

It’s all about expectations.  Our expectations for the experience online are different than the in-store experience.  As long as a website is easy to navigate, has the product we want, and makes it easy to buy – we’re happy.  Most sites do a reasonable job meeting these expectations.  On the other hand, the in-store experience expectations get into an array of sensory issues:  temperature, lighting, smells, music, and the social expectations for the humans we are going to interact with.  It is much more complicated to meet and exceed customer expectations in a fully sensory environment. 

Physical store retailers must pay attention to all these sensory aspects and must ensure they have well-paid, engaged, passionate sales associates ready to exceed the customers’ social expectations.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist

http://www.osoriogroup.com/

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GO TO THE FULL ARTICLE AND DISCUSSION AT RETAILWIRE.COM:
http://www.retailwire.com/Discussions/Sngl_Discussion.cfm/12767       

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Thank you for visiting my blog!  Please subscribe using the RSS button and comment on my postings.  Comments are the life-blood of any blog and I appreciate yours!


Lord and Taylor Buys Fortunoff

February 19, 2008

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DISCUSSION TOPIC: 
Lord & Taylor Buys Fortunoff

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TOPIC SUMMARY:

Famed New York City jeweler and home furnishings retailer, Fortunoff, last week agreed to be bought by the owners of Lord & Taylor. The sale to NRDC Equity Partners LLC is expected to close in early March, subject to bankruptcy court approval and other conditions. 

Plans call for the opening of branded Fortunoff jewelry departments as well as home and bridal registry areas in L&T’s 47 stores – including a 100,000-square-foot Fortunoff home furnishing department and smaller Fortunoff jewelry department within the flagship at 39th Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The New York Times said this could make L&T a bigger competitive threat to Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom. 

Discussion questions: How would you rate the merger between Lord & Taylor and Fortunoff? What do you think of the plans to introduce Fortunoff departments in L&T and to reposition Fortunoff more as an upscale retailer? 

My post:

As a long-time admirer of Fortunoff, and a recent admirer of the amazing ascension of L&T under the current ownership, I am thrilled with the merger.  Fortunoff has phenomenal talent in place for Baker, Elfers, et al to partner with.  The combined talent pool will be able to execute this merger effectively and I predict a rare 1+1=3 result.  I’m looking forward to shopping at L&T on my next trip to New York!

 Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! ™ strategist www.OsorioGroup.com  

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GO TO THE FULL DISCUSSION AT RETAILWIRE.COM:
http://www.retailwire.com/Discussions/Sngl_Discussion.cfm/12754      

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 Thank you for visiting my blog!  Please subscribe using the RSS button and comment on my postings.  Comments are the life-blood of any blog and I appreciate yours!


Sears opens Lands’ End Ministores

February 19, 2008

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DISCUSSION TOPIC

Big hopes for ministores – 2/19/08

Sears tries to boost sales by giving Lands’ End products their own space
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TOPIC SUMMARY:

Retailer Sears, a part of Sears Holdings, has struggled for years to get shoppers to go to its stores for more than drills and refrigerators. But remakes pitching the “softer side of Sears” didn’t do the trick. So now Sears is trying another tactic — creating complete Lands’ End stores-within-a-store — in the hope that it can capitalize on the brand.  At its store in Hunt Valley Towne Centre, the retailer has dedicated about half of the first floor, about 24,000 square feet, to Lands’ End, a preppy outdoor and apparel brand.

Department stores say the ministores give consumers another reason to shop at their stores. Companies such as Polo, Sephora, Under Armour and Sprint say setting up in larger stores gives them access to prime real estate. They also said their products sell better in ministores than if the merchandise were scattered around various departments.

Analysts said Sears’ continuing weak sales — the company announced a restructuring and the departure of its chief executive officer last month — indicate that Sears might be depending too much on Lands’ End.

Discussion questions: What is your take on Sears’ latest attempt to redefine their apparel offering?  Can a Lands End ministore work for Sears like Under Armour ministores work for Dick’s Sporting Goods?  Click on “comments” below to post your views.

My post:

The concept of the ministore has worked for years and has recently come back strong in the form of exclusives, such as Tommy Hilfiger and Martha Stewart at Macy’s, and Chaps at Kohl’s.  So the idea of using their exclusive on Lands’ End to set up significant ministores is logical.  The problem is that few people think about Sears as a place to buy apparel, leaving the Lands’ End shops as incongruous.  I don’t think this effort will hurt sales by any means and should create some interest for those who do recognize that the brand is only available in Sears if they want to see it in person.  However, the larger problem of Sears’ “reason for existence” remains in question.  They might have better luck doing a Lands’ End exclusive with Macy’s or Kohl’s and avoiding the expense to implement this concept throughout the Sears store portfolio.  Only time will tell – stay tuned.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist

http://www.osoriogroup.com/

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GO TO THE FULL ARTICLE AT BALTIMORESUN.COM:
http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bal-bz.sears19feb19,0,7919651,full.story     

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Thank you for visiting my blog!  Please subscribe using the RSS button and comment on my postings.  Comments are the life-blood of any blog and I appreciate yours!


Cracking down on serial wardrobers

February 18, 2008

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DISCUSSION TOPIC

Retailers crack down on serial returns– 2/18/08
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TOPIC SUMMARY:

Nearly two-thirds of merchants had items wardrobed (bought, used and then returned) in 2007, up from 56 percent the year before, the first year the National Retail Federation started tracking the trend. Merchants blame tough economic times and a “customer-is-always right” mentality gone too far. They say a growing number of shoppers feel entitled to return used items they no longer want, and probably could not afford in the first place – from costly cocktail dresses for big events to pricey plasma televisions bought exclusively to watch the Super Bowl. So, they are striking back, instituting more restrictive return policies, imposing restocking fees, and keeping a blacklist of serial wardrobers. 

Discussion questions: Do you “wardrobe”?  Should retailers tighten up policies or continue to take back anything, no questions asked?  Click on “comments” below to post your views.

My post:

“Renting” or “wardrobing” has always been a reality for retailers with the most common abuse coming from special occasion dresses and shoes.  Today’s relaxed morality and difficult personal economics exacerbates the trend.  However, the majority of customers do not do practice wardrobing regularly and it is, therefore, a mistake for retailers to build policies based on minority behaviors.  Reasonable policies for electronics and social occasion apparel are expected and accepted (i.e. Costco and Neiman Marcus).  Unfortunately, most retailers choose to build draconian return policies which irritate or at least intimidate most shoppers.  I will shop where I know I need not worry about having to prove why my return is valid.  The best defense is technology:  tracking return behaviors and targeted the serial wardrobers, leaving the generous return policies in place for the majority of shoppers whose returns are valid.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! ™ strategist www.OsorioGroup.com  

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GO TO THE FULL ARTICLE AT BOSTON.COM:
http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2008/02/18/retailers_crack_down_on_serial_returns/    

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 Thank you for visiting my blog!  Please subscribe using the RSS button and comment on my postings.  Comments are the life-blood of any blog and I appreciate yours!