Friday, December 14, 2007

Study Reveals the Differences in Men and Women’s Problems with Shopping

By Amanda Ferrante, Assistant Editor
Men and women come from different departments when it comes to shopping.
A recent edition of The Wise Marketer featured a new benchmark study investigating the difference in shopping habits in gender. The study examined the experiences most likely to deter shoppers from a particular retailer, and found that approximately half of all customers reported encountering problems during their most recent shopping experience.

Conducted by the Jay H. Baker Retail initiative at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, The Verde Group, and Women Certified, the ‘Men Buy, Women Shop’ study examined the problems men and women face in-store, and how their experiences differ. The study found that women are more likely to experience problems than men (53% against 48%) when shopping. Factoring in age as well as gender, this result applied especially to women over the age of 40, compared to men of the same ages.

That being said, the study notes that men who experience a shopping problem are more likely to cause detriment to the retailer. Nearly 20% are less likely to recommend a store where they encountered a problem.

Both men and women listed their most encountered problems, but some are more likely than others to make the shopper stray away from the store- resulting in a loss of business.
• 29% was a lack of help when needed.
• Approximately 6% of female shoppers will not return to the store as a result.
• The problem most likely to deter men from a particular retailer is when a product is out of stock.
• Approximately 5% of men will desert the retailer as a result.

While retailers may emphasize the importance of customer service and assistance in-store, both men and women reported being the most satisfied with sales associates’ willingness to let them shop or browse at their own pace. The ever-present opener, “How may I help you?” may be better left unsaid.

Retailers should be conscious of these turnoffs:
Women said that when she feels like an imposition, 47% of those surveyed are less likely to return to the store because “store employees acted like shoppers were intruding on their time or their own conversations.”
• 22% of men felt the same way, supporting the theory that men are less personal when it comes to shopping.

It’s important for retailers to pay close attention to what the customer feels builds loyalty. This is what brings shoppers back to the store.
• Men say that a key loyalty builder is the sales associate’s interest in assisting them in their findings in-store.
Getting to the checkout quickly is another element of successful shopping for men.
• Women’s loyalty stems from the sales associate’s knowledge on products and the ability to understand her needs as a consumer, offering products suitable for her taste.

Because the viral effect can sometimes be more of a marketing effort than traditional ones, it’s important for retailers to acknowledge the consumer’s complaints, as their in-store incidents (positive and negative), are liable to be repeated to friends, who are also shoppers.
• Women are more likely than men to discuss their experiences because they are more particular about the in-store experience.
• The study indicates great emphasis should be put on retailers being attentive to the shopper’s needs- especially female shoppers.

The Wise Marketer:
Verde Group:
Jay H. Baker:
Women Certified:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Advanced Workforce Tools Driving New Metrics For Successful Store Execution

Given the heightened competitive pressures in today’s retail marketplace, more and more retailers are focusing on metrics like customer satisfaction scores and the lifetime value of customers. The folks at Wal-Mart have estimated that the lifetime value of a lost customer for one of their stores can be as much as $200,000.

According to AMR Research, customers will stop shopping at a retailer after three negative experiences. And the factors that typically drive customers away—out-of-stocks, rude or uninformed sales associates—all correlate directly to store execution.

Paras Goel, a Principal Consultant focused on Store Operations and Execution with Infosys, says retailers large and small are realizing the front lines are critical to overall success.

Goel, who has worked with several Fortune 1000 retailers in North America as well as other parts of the globe to define their store strategies, emphasizes that the store is the central “point of convergence” to all customer and merchandising strategies. Retail TouchPoints recently talked with Goel to get his insights into the key metrics and tactics retailers are applying to improve store execution.


A core area that many retailers are still neglecting, according to Goel, is store associate motivation. “I find most retailers still don’t give this the attention it deserves,” he says. “Providing store associates with tools to do their job better gives them a sense of empowerment and ultimately results in improved customer satisfaction.”

The primary investment retailers make to improve motivation is in the area of training, but Goel points out that new technology has also enabled self-service capabilities which are generally very popular among store associates. “When a retailer is able to offer its associates features like shift-swapping or shift-bidding, which was borrowed from the airline industry, it has a very positive impact.”


Another result of the increased adoption of advanced workforce management solutions, according to Goel, is the ability for corporate management to measure and benchmark how stores are performing from an execution standpoint. Specifically, he suggests looking at the following areas:Productivity, Coverage, Associate Satisfaction, and Communication.

To see descriptions of each area of performance measurements, click here.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Focus On The Frontlines
Heats Up For Retail Giants

By Andrew Gaffney

The frontlines of the retail industry appeared on the front pages this month, spotlighting the movement by major retailers to strengthen their associates that are closest to the customer. The associate training program Home Depot was profiled in the August edition of Training magazine (

Home Depot is counting on its increased investment in associate training as a key part of its turnaround plan. The article, which examines the $600 million Home Depot is investing in learning and development, spotlights the chain’s use of e-learning tools as well as more traditional means, such as road shows, to train its more than 364,000 associates.

The interactive portion of the training is centered around a 15-minute program the retailer calls Rapid Web-Based Training, an e-learning format that delivers video, PowerPoint presentations to simulate customer interactions. While delivering these kind of interactive tools to associates has been problematic in the past, the home improvement giant plans to schedule these brief training sessions before and after associate shifts.

Given the “how-to” focus of its stores, Home Depot also has to address the additional challenge of making sure its associates are versed on products and projects. To tackle this task, Home Depot has assembled a team of 50 training content developers and has 520 trainers on staff to deliver the content.

Retail Reality: Home Depot’s new CEO Frank Blake seems
genuinely committed to strengthening the chain’s frontline, especially since the retailer’s service was put through the ringer on the blogosphere earlier this year.

However, being a Home Depot shopper myself I have yet to see any of the changes taking effect in the aisles. The “orange vests” are still difficult to find and often clueless to answer your question.

Even more frustrating, when I tried to steer a question towards one associate on a recent trip, he informed he “was on his way home.” It was around 5:40 pm, which I interpreted to mean that he was 20 minutes away from quitting time and was not interested in getting involved in my problems.

The challenge for Home Depot goes well beyond the need for greater product and knowledge, they need a dramatic cultural shift that reaches down to the associate level There is also a Retail Leadership Development Program in the works for store managers and
department supervisors, which hopefully instill a customer-centric attitude at the store level.