How shoppable is your store? It’s a critical question for retailers any time of year, but even more so in the thick of the holiday shopping season.
The good news is that IGA’s Assessment Program provides insights to answer that question—and after a thorough analysis of the results from the most recently completed assessment, the answer is positive for a majority of IGA retailers, says IGA Coca-Cola Institute President Paulo Goelzer.
“We were very pleased with the July assessment,” Goelzer says of results that showed that most IGA retailers are in good shape or near where they need to be. “That said, if you’re not working every day to continually improve in retail, you will soon find yourself falling behind. That’s why we took the assessment analysis a step further to give IGA retailers a better tool to improve what is most important to shoppers.”
According to Goelzer, a thorough gap analysis of the latest IGA assessment data—conducted by Kripa Rajshekhar and analytics firm Metonymize—provides a valuable benchmark on where stores stand going into 2020, and even more importantly, tips for what to look for to continually improve shopability today and in the future.
Understanding Assessment Program benchmarks
Successful brands around the world measure customer experience and predict business growth by a proven benchmarking metric called the Net Promoter Score (NPS). The NPS is calculated using the answer to a key question of their shoppers: On a scale of zero to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?
Respondents are grouped as follows:
- Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth.
- Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who are vulnerable to competitive offerings.
- Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.
When IGA assessors were asked the likelihood that they would recommend the IGA store to a friend or colleague, 60 percent of the stores received a "promoter" score, meaning the assessor would enthusiastically recommend the store to others. But the real insight comes when you compare those promoter stores against the remaining 40 percent of stores.
Take, for example, the 25 percent of stores with a “passive” score, which indicates the assessors were generally satisfied, but unenthusiastic. “A passive score means the customer is not really loyal to the brand, and therefore is vulnerable to the competition,” Goelzer says. “That’s a big red flag for retailers because it means they can potentially lose that shopper, as well as all the shoppers they would have gained from positive recommendations. For independents, word of mouth is crucial to their success.”
So how can IGA retailers turn indifferent shoppers into loyal return customers who spread the word to their friends and family?
Looking at the biggest gaps between those 25 percent of stores receiving lower scores and the top performing stores provides a snapshot into the biggest areas for improvement, namely:
- Exterior—clean, appealing, and welcoming store entrance
- Service—cashiers and staff friendly and knowledgeable
- Local—carry and mark local products
How does your store compare?
As additional waves of more individual analysis become available, each IGA store owner and manager could take the opportunity to look at their store with fresh eyes—even if they’re one of the highest performing stores, says Goelzer.
“This gap analysis gives you key insight into what is important to the shopper, so it’s great information for every retailer, no matter where you stand,” Goelzer says.
And while your assessment gives you an independent view of how you’re doing in each of these areas three times a year, Goelzer suggests you regularly ask yourself these key questions as you consider the shopability of your store—not just when you know you’re in an assessment window.
Think about the condition of your store:
- When you pull up in the parking lot, is the lot clean, easily marked, and free of dangerous cracks and potholes?
- Are the carts clean and organized outside and inside?
- Does the building look welcoming and enticing to enter?
Then think about the staff:
- When was the last time the staff was trained on seasonal produce and products?
- Have they had any customer service training recently?
- Are there incentives to excel at customer service or learn more about their department?
Finally, how are you engaging with IGA’s Local Equals Fresh branding campaign?
- Do you have the Local Equals Fresh signage in your produce department?
- Do you identify produce or products provided by local farms, artisans, and businesses?
- Do you carry enough local products for your shoppers?
Stores in the lower percentile
The lower percentile score—or the 15 percent of the stores that assessors would not recommend to others—are considered "detractors," or unhappy customers who can damage your brand and impede growth through negative word-of-mouth. These detractor stores have some of the same issues outlined above, but with more urgent concerns related to the condition of the store and the quality of the service. According to the analysis, these stores have three key improvement areas to focus on:
When you receive assessment scores for the final assessment of the year later this month, Goelzer encourages you to review them carefully. For those stores who receive low assessment scores, he suggests implementing the above suggestions immediately, and taking a deeper dive into how to improve by starting with these online courses available through the IGA Coca-Cola Institute:
- Store Safety: Cleanliness and Sanitation
- IGA Way to Care—Essentials
- IGA Way to Care—Electives
- Category Management
- Promotions and Merchandising
What happens next?
With the final assessment of the year nearly complete and scores due out later this month, the next step for IGA is to use the results from the summer and fall assessments to calculate retailers’ Five Star status. Retailers with an average score for the fall and winter assessments above 75 percent of the points available will be considered Five Star, and will receive their certificates in January 2020.
But closing the books on the inaugural assessment year does not mean the new Assessment Program process is set in stone, Goelzer stresses.
“2019 was a discovery year for the new Assessment Program, and we learned a lot that will help us continue to improve the program going forward,” he says. “We are working diligently to execute changes that will make this the best and most helpful program it can be.”
Immediate improvements coming your way in 2020 include a simplified scoring system to make it easier to understand and make improvements. The team is also working to increase the response time to provide IGA retailers feedback sooner and provide a more individual analysis to each retailer to show the gaps in each category. And to avoid issues with assessors taking photos in IGA stores, going forward, part of the visit will also be disclosed to retailers.
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