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Engaging shoppers at the front-end and in the aisles are keys to a satisfying and enjoyable shopper experience, and in turn, a willingness for consumers to recommend a particular store to their friends and family, according to the latest results of Retail Feedback Group (RFG)'s 2014 U.S. Supermarket Experience Study.
Another significant highlight of the study by the Lake Success, N .Y.-based consumer insights and research consultancy, now in its seventh year, found that supermarkets continue to generate high satisfaction among shoppers, scoring an average of 4.46 on a 5 point scale, where five is highest.
“The findings of our study show that a people-first culture is an essential element in winning the grocery war – especially when combining in-store engagement with technology to bring the personal touch back to retail," affirmed Doug Madenberg, RFG principal.
Importance of the Personal Touch at the Supermarket
Among the highlights of this year's Supermarket Experience Study:
- Checkout: 65 percent of shoppers acknowledge cashiers have a positive impact on their trip experience, underscoring the importance of cashier-assisted lanes in high trip satisfaction.
- In-Aisle Engagement: Pleasant interactions with store associates, including product recommendations, create an immediate payoff in terms of a larger basket size, as well as a longer-term loyalty building advantage, given higher-than-average recommendation and satisfaction scores.
- Active Problem Solving: Offering assistance in finding items, resolving out-of-stocks or addressing other problems during the trip helps avoid lost sales and dissatisfied shoppers. Supermarkets show room for improvement as only half of shoppers indicated an issue encountered was resolved during the trip.
- Leveraging Technology: Social media serves as an important gateway to building and strengthening loyal connections leading up to, between, and following grocery trips. Shoppers connected with their primary stores through social media are more likely to recommend the store and provide high satisfaction ratings.
Local Products and Farmers Markets
Driven by a desire for freshness and support of local economies, shoppers are expressing interest in locally-sourced items, which they define as grown within a certain mile radius (46 percent), or in their home state (41 percent). Shoppers are most interested in locally-grown vegetables, followed by fruit, eggs, meat and poultry, and milk.
Closely tied in to the local movement, farmers markets are becoming a competitive force with 78 percent of shoppers buying food items there at least on occasion. Top reasons again center on freshness and supporting the local economy.
“More than eight in 10 shoppers cite very high interest in purchasing locally-grown produce, yet shoppers do not give supermarkets high satisfaction marks on the variety of locally-sourced foods," noted Brian Numainville, RFG principal. "While fresh has been a supermarket stronghold, the ever-growing number of farmers markets, and their strength in locally-grown seasonal items, may become a potential disrupter and should serve as a red flag for supermarkets to protect their point of differentiation, and ultimately, the fresh dollar," Numainville added.