By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
As the highly promotional holiday selling season has proven, consumers love a bargain. But as CE customers find it harder to differentiate between retailers and their high-tech wares, many say they are willing to pay a higher price, as long as it guarantees them good customer service.
In a national study on customer loyalty conducted by Walker Information, the vast majority of consumers — 90 percent — indicated that they are satisfied with their retailer of choice. However, in the consumer electronics sector, only 48 percent consider themselves truly loyal customers — those who plan future purchasing from their current most-frequented store.
Another 39 percent categorize themselves as trapped consumers, who are not really satisfied with their CE retailer but plan to continue purchasing from that retailer until some better offer comes along.
The difference between the loyal and the trapped lies mostly in the way consumers feel they are treated by the retailer they frequent.
Truly loyal customers cited delivery and installation services (81 percent), the professionalism of the store's sales reps (73 percent) and the presence of an in-store customer service counter (72 percent) as the retail experiences loyalty-worthy retailers do best.
Product price range came in eighth place, at 63 percent, and check-out time finished last, at 52 percent, an indication that consumers are willing to spend the time and the money to make an educated purchase, as long as the retailer makes it worth their while and is willing to offer assistance.
When asked whether they would be willing to pay more for qualified sales assistance, 41 percent said yes.
"The sales process can be a turn-off, and the message to the retailer is straightforward. You have to make it easy for people to find what they want and help them make the right choice for their needs," said Bob Kizer, Walker Information's group VP of retail practice. "The fact that four in ten consumers are willing to pay a little more for qualified sales assistance cries out for retailers to solve the sales personnel equation of the shopping experience, both from a quantity and quality perspective."
Some other telling results: Less than 60 percent of consumers believe the retailers with which they do business are highly ethical, and only 68 percent think their retailer cares about its customers.
For more information on the Walker Loyalty Report, see www.walkerinfo.com, or call (317) 843-3939.Common Problems Locating Product, Checking Out
|Retail Total||Consumer Electronics||Home Improvement||Drug Stores|
|Sales Rep willingness to help||76||68–||72||83+|
|Sales Rep professionalism||71*||73||75||69*|
|Sales Rep knowledge||70||68*||73||69|
|Sales Rep availability||62||62||59||62|
|Ease of locating products||59*||63*||51– *||64|
|* Denotes top drivers of loyalty.|
+/– Sector higher/lower than Retail Total based on estimated statistical test.
Note: Sales Rep ratings for Drug Stores segment represent an average of both the Pharmaceutical and other Store Associate ratings.
Source for all charts: Walker Information © TWICE 2004
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