Department store chain John Lewis has been voted the UK's favourite retailer in a poll of over 6,000 shoppers. The survey – the Consumer Satisfaction Index 2008 – carried out by retail analysts Verdict Research found that John Lewis was more highly regarded than any of its competitors. Indeed, despite a more competitive retail sector and increasingly fickle consumers, John Lewis managed to increase its overall satisfaction score since last year giving it a considerable lead over all other retailers and the highest score ever attained in the Index.
For the survey Verdict Research quizzed customers about where they shopped most frequently, and then asked them to rate those stores in terms of range, price, convenience, quality, service, ambience, facilities and layout. The data was collated to give retailers a score for each of these criteria, as well as an overall consumer satisfaction rating.
John Lewis regained the top spot in the 2008 Index, having been nudged into second position last year by its sibling, Waitrose. The department store business performs well across a range of measures, but it is in service that it excels: John Lewis has been ranked top on this attribute since the survey began eight years ago. Author of the report and Verdict's Consulting* Director, Neil Saunders, says this is unsurprising: “The idea of good service at John Lewis isn't simply a fad dreamt up by management for short term gain – it's an integral part of the business, supported by an ownership structure which reduces staff turnover and gives partners, at all levels, a real incentive to perform well. The result is an enthusiastic workforce which is knowledgeable about products.”
Waitrose, John Lewis's sister company, came second in the Index after attaining the top ranking last year. The retailer does particularly well in both ambience and layout where consumers give it top marks. Joint report author James Flower, Retail Analyst with Verdict Research, said that Waitrose's score was impressive: “Because of the intense competition in the grocery sector and because most people dislike food shopping, it is very difficult for supermarkets to attain high satisfaction scores – Waitrose is the exception and that demonstrates the degree to which it really offers something different and relevant to its customers.”
Dunelm, the specialist homewares retailer comes in at number three in the Index. Shoppers rate the chain for the amount of choice available at its stores and for its keen prices. Dunelm offers consumers a comprehensive range of own-brand merchandise that helps differentiate it against other players in the homewares market. “This combination of range authority and good prices will be increasingly important in allowing Dunelm to compete against the grocers as they keep expanding into homewares,” comments Flower.
The internet retailer Amazon retains its position of fourth place this year. Customers are particularly satisfied with the depth of its range, its price competitiveness and its convenience. Amazon also scores well on service where it is ranked fourth. “Amazon constantly strives to make life easier for its customers” says Saunders, “it has one of the most effective, efficient and innovate delivery services of any internet retailer which is vital for satisfying busy consumers.”
IKEA the Swedish furniture giant comes in at number five. The extensive product choice available at the retailer's massive stores is the primary driver of satisfaction. However, IKEA has improved its rating for convenience this year after introducing its online home delivery service.
(See Table 1 showing the top ten overall retailers in the Consumer Satisfaction Index 2008 and their change in rank since last year.
When it comes to the individual retail sectors the strength of the John Lewis Partnership is further revealed. The department store side of the business comes top in three sectors (clothing, homewares and electricals) while Waitrose tops the food and grocery sector. In the remaining sectors, Wickes heads DIY, TKMaxx tops footwear, Amazon music and video and Avon personal care. “John Lewis is a department store in the true sense of the word,” says Flower, “it has real authority across all of the sectors it trades in and this is part of its appeal among shoppers – people go there because they know they will find what they're looking for.”
See Table 2 showing the top three retailers in each sector 2008.
Verdict believes that over the next year, as trading conditions become tougher and consumers more demanding, building loyalty will be a key driver of retail success. “The fact is that consumers today have more choice than ever before” says Saunders. “If a retailer gets it wrong it's very easy for a shopper to go elsewhere. It's no longer sufficient to pay lip service to ‘keeping the customer satisfied' - it has to be a philosophy placed at the heart of a retail business.”
Article courtesy Verdict Research