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By Brian Numainville, retailfeedback.com
It may not be a tremendous surprise that one of the biggest detractors to a positive shopping experience is discourteous, unknowledgeable, and nowhere-to-be-found staff. Associates hold the key to high trip satisfaction in the supermarket channel by making customers feel like welcome guests, offering food expertise and providing exceptional service.
While having strong associates may indeed be “table stakes” for running a successful supermarket store or chain today – as reinforced by results of our annual recently released Retail Feedback Group Supermarket Experience Study – it's not as easy as it sounds. Hiring and retention issues aside, margin, sales and other pressures have often led to reduced staffing levels and employee training budgets. But in the end, it isn’t surprising that having a solid associate base can make a big difference.
What I did find, however, more surprising is that shoppers use of money saving measures, while still strong on an absolute basis with use by 76 percent of shoppers surveyed, shows a decline both overall and across many vehicles measured.
Let’s consider coupon-clipping: 25 percent of supermarket shoppers indicate they engage in this practice but it is down from 32 percent last year. And even downloading digital coupons, which registered at 14 percent this year, shows a decline from 19 percent last year.
Similar results are found when considering grocery circulars. Overall, 70 percent used the printed version. While 46 percent indicated they read the printed version at home, this is down from 50 percent a year ago. Reading the printed circular in the store remains similar to last year, down just one percent to 24 percent. Use of the electronic version of the circular shows a five-point decline from 21 percent to 16 percent currently.
Finally, when examining promotions, a similar pattern emerges. Using in-store deals declined to 14 percent from 17 percent last year, at least in part due to the declining use of secondary displays by retailers as the economy is improving. Using loyalty program deals, smartphone research and social media research remained virtually unchanged.
So the research findings support the fact that this reduction in use of various vehicles isn’t just an issue of shoppers moving from print to digital given the declines in both. As we gain distance from the recession of several years ago, the visibility of the economic downturn begins to fade and some shoppers are in a better position, resulting in a reduced dependency on money-saving measures and more focus on convenience and speed, especially among higher income shoppers.
But at the same time, the overall number of shoppers using some form of money-saving measures has only declined by two percent so these vehicles are absolutely still relevant. Perhaps most importantly, shoppers who use the circular, coupons and sales promotions are more satisfied (with an average score of 4.52 versus 4.44 overall) and more likely to recommend the supermarket.
In the end, encouraging the use of the grocery circular (whether pre-trip or in the store), utilizing a customized coupon strategy and offering in-store promotions will likely lead to more satisfied, loyal shoppers as each helps reinforce perceived value – a key driver of trip satisfaction.