Leger is pleased to present the results of its 2020 WOW Study, including the ranking of the best in-store experiences in Ontario!
Brick and mortar retailers know that providing an excellent customer experience is essential for success. But how can you measure the quality of the in-store experience you are providing?
For ten years, Leger has been conducting the WOW study, which evaluates the in-store customer experience and various performance indicators among Ontario retailers. The goal of the study is to help retailers understand how they can provide an in-store experience that goes beyond WOW to their customers and to identify the top 10 retailers who are providing the best in-store experiences.
WOW identifies the major irritants your customers experience and analyzes their feedback. In 2020, the study also explored how the pandemic (including the health and safety measures implemented in stores) has impacted the in-store customer experience.
In 2020, in the face of the global pandemic, the in-store customer experience has become more important than ever.
COVID-19 has dealt a severe blow to the retail sector, especially brick and mortar stores. In Ontario, throughout the pandemic, retailers have been subject to various restrictions depending on whether they are classified as non-essential businesses or not, and they are feeling the impact.
As noted by Christian Bourque, Executive Vice-President, Leger, “In these dire circumstances, measuring the in-store customer experience and ensuring customer satisfaction is crucial. Offering a customer experience that goes beyond WOW in the face of the restrictions in place is essential for retailers’ survival in these trying times.”
So, which Ontario retailers came out on top?
The 2020 Ranking of the Best In-Store Experiences in Ontario
Based on our 2020 WOW study results, the Ontario retailers who are providing the best in-store customer experience are:
SOME KEY FINDINGS OF THE STUDY
THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE HAS DECLINED AT ESSENTIAL RETAILERS
While some have been able to provide a great customer experience and even improve, most of the declines in the WOW in-store experience index in Ontario are in the convenience store, supermarket, pharmacy, and hardware store and renovation centre sectors. However, certain businesses considered essential stood out very well this year, particularly those who offer a better integrated service at the omnichannel level (e.g. in-store pickup, home delivery).
FEWER INTERACTIONS WITH FLOOR STAFF FOR ADVICE OR INFORMATION
The proportion of visitors who received advice about choosing the right product fell sharply compared to 2019 (30%; -14 vs. 2019) for the majority of retailers. In-store pick-up partly explains this decrease, but customers are also more often left to their own devices due to physical distancing. It is important to ensure that signage and shopping assistance are in place.
IMPROVED CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AT FASHION BOUTIQUES AND NICHE RETAILERS
Generally speaking, the in-store customer experience for clothing, fashion accessory, footwear, sports, and beauty product stores, as well as stores targeting a more niche clientele (e.g., luxury goods, jewelry) has improved significantly compared to last year.
HEALTH MEASURES HAVE HAD A SLIGHT NEGATIVE IMPACT ON THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
One-in-five (20%) consumers find that the health and safety measures implemented during the pandemic significantly affect their shopping experience. The measures appear to have a greater impact on customers of beauty, jewelry, and clothing stores.
FREE AND FAST DELIVERY AND FLEXIBLE RETURN POLICIES ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT TOOLS TO CONTROL IN-STORE TRAFFIC
The most relevant services to effectively limit the number of visitors in stores are offering free delivery or installation, providing easy and flexible return or cancellation policies, and ensuring a short delivery or installation time.
- Web survey conducted among nearly 13,000 Ontarians, 15 years of age or older, who have visited at least one retail store recently.
- In total, 145 retailers in 20 sectors were evaluated. Each retailer was evaluated by approximately 400 respondents who have visited the retailer’s store(s) since June 2020. For grocery stores, the respondent needed to have visited a store in the past month.
- Data collection took place from October 18 to November 23, 2020.
- The results were weighted by age, gender, and region to be representative of each retailer’s recent customers.