Today, WWD covered the news about a retail store execution study we just completed with Coyle Hospitality Group, the world's leading provider of customer experience consulting, quality assurance, and mystery shopping. The study focused on ~100 retailers in the US and Canada across different categories, including apparel, beauty, home improvement, grocery, C-store, pharmacy, and more.
We send Coyle’s secret shoppers into these stores in November to answer questions across five categories: speed and convenience; signage; health and safety; sales execution; and holiday readiness. We wanted to find out what the holiday shopping season felt like for consumers (scary? festive?) and how store execution was faring amidst another wave of coronavirus.
In addition to the secret shopping data, we looked at brands’ websites to understand their corporate initiatives and Glassdoor ratings to understand employee satisfaction. Analysis of the complete data set provided us with some interesting insights.
Health and Safety Remains a Focus
The average Health and Safety score across all retailers was 78%, proving that the nearly year-long focus on safety protocols is paying off. However, with an average Sales Execution score of 50% and a Holiday Preparedness score of 20%, it appears that energy is being diverted from customer engagement to ensure that stores are safe.
Employee Happiness Drives Better Store Engagement
The study cross-referenced Glassdoor scores to understand how retailers’ performance is impacted by employee satisfaction. Companies with ratings over 3.5 on Glassdoor performed 15% better overall than those with ratings lower than 3.5, on a scale of 1-5. In the secret shopper analysis, the difference was particularly pronounced on personal interaction measures, e.g., proactively approaching the shopper regarding sales/specials (+115%) or greeting the shopper warmly (+44%).
Regional Differences Brought to Light as Stores in Central U.S. Rank Lower
Driven by corporate leadership, COVID-19 safety protocols, like signage urging social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand sanitizer availability, saw geographical differences. Coastal states like New York and California took greater health and safety precautions, 84% overall score, while those in the interior U.S., like the midwest and south, took less at a 71% overall score.
Customers in New York, California and Canada were far more likely to wear masks than those in the central U.S, 98% versus 82%. Even employees showed regional discrepancies in mask-wearing, 100% versus 89%. This was reflected in how safe the secret shoppers felt: 85% felt very safe in New York and California, while only 67% felt very safe in the central U.S.
Common Threads Between Top-Ranking Retailers: Communications Technology
Retailers that put software solutions in place to communicate better and manage store execution ranked higher in every category, but especially in speed and convenience (16%) and sales execution (29%). This data validates the NAPCO study results from 2020, where we found that our customers dramatically outperform in health and safety, thanks to our unique product philosophy around communications and task management that drives flawless store execution.
We are sitting on loads of great data and we want to share it with the industry so you can understand how you’re doing vis a vis your competitors and how consumers are feeling about the shopping experience today.
Please download the complete Retail Zipline report here, and request your brand or category data. (We’ll reach out after you download the study!)