Tune in to a customer, says Maritz
M&S have relieved the market by reporting a smaller than expected drop in sales (4% rather than 7%) but department stores are generally having a hard time, with 37% of consumers spending less in them than they did year ago.
These are the findings of a recent survey conducted by leading market research organisation Maritz Research.
With the news that three major department stores are launching a price war this month, and the ever-threatening danger of redundancies, it is still of great significance that stores cater exactly to their shoppers’ needs. “Customers are choosing more carefully than they have done in the past”, observes Graham Devereux, Director of Retail Research at Maritz Research.
“There are still many opportunities out there but you have to be more tuned into customer needs than ever before. Range,
availability and price still continue to be the entry barriers to the game, but service continues to be a key differentiator, and that’s contingent on retail staff consistency.”
74 per cent of all customers see service as an important factor. Accordingly, retailers have to ensure that – in spite of the focus on costs – the customer should not feel the impact directly in their store experience. This may be a real challenge, but customers will vote with their feet if they don’t get the service they want!
The Maritz Research Poll collected the views of 1,016 British consumers who have recently shopped in at least one of the surveyed department stores. The survey was conducted in February 2009.