Retailers should make the connection between ease of shopping and loyalty

Making shopping almost effortless could be the key to generating more sales, according to research shown to Marketing Week.

Lucy Handley

Rather than measuring a brand using net promoter score, supermarkets and other retailers should be measuring the ‘customer effort score’ – or how easy or difficult it is to shop somewhere. The idea is that this is a better predictor of brand loyalty than simply measuring how satisfied people are with shopping in-store.

This is where Tesco and Sainsbury’s – which both published quarterly results yesterday – are faring reasonably well, according to BDRC’s research.

Seventeen per cent of people say that shopping at Tesco takes a lot of effort, compared with 16 per cent for Sainsbury’s. Sainsbury’s does well for store navigation and polite staff, while people rate Tesco for its ‘extra’ services and range of goods.

Although it might seem obvious that if you make something easy to do, people will spend more money, retailers are not necessarily realising how important this is.

The research harks back to a study done by the Corporate Executive Board, which was published in the Harvard Business Review in 2010 under the headline ‘Stop trying to delight your customers’, suggesting instead that making it easy to get their problem solved will make them more loyal. It showed that acting on this insight can reduce customer service costs as well as ‘churn’ rates.

It is the higher-end shops that do less well when it comes to how much effort people have to make to shop in-store. Twenty-three per cent say shopping at Waitrose is ‘high or very high effort’ and the figure for Marks & Spencer is highest at 25 per cent. Waitrose shoppers rate its staff and quality of goods, but it fares much less well on navigation, while M&S does best for fresh food and quality but poorly on how long it takes to shop there.

Iceland and Morrisons fare best of all, with 56 per cent and 55 per cent of people respectively saying that they rate their shopping experience as low or very low effort. Iceland tops the list for ease of navigation in store and Morrisons rates highest for having well-stocked shelves. 

This also applies online. When deciding for the first time which supermarket I wanted to deliver my groceries, I went to each website and the one that got me to the delivery area and charges page in the quickest and easiest way is the one I am now loyal to. That was Tesco.

The judges for the Data Strategy Awards 2014 have been announced. To find out more and to enter the awards, click here 

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