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NRF survey says retailers/customers not in synch

NEW YORK — When asked what customers thought was important, many merchants overestimate the value of certain service elements, according to a survey released this week at the National Retail Federation's Annual Convention & Expo.

Retailers put extra emphasis on customer service elements that are not as important to shoppers, as well as underestimating the importance of others that are very important to their customers. Nearly three out of four customers (71 percent) are extremely concerned with accurate item prices though only 58 percent of retailers saw accurate pricing as critically important to customers. 

Additionally, three out of four shoppers (73 percent) felt that it was extremely important that retailers not share information with other companies, though only 59 percent of retailers saw this as important. Staffing was area another where gaps existed between retailers and consumers. While only 31 percent of retailers felt it was extremely important to customers that their stores were staffed with an adequate number of employees, 47 percent of customers thought that aspect was extremely important.

Moreover, 44 percent of merchants thought their customers would find it extremely important that employees get to know customers, while only 25 percent of customers saw it as extremely valuable. More than a third of merchants (35 percent) thought their customers would place a high importance on the quality of merchandise offered, though only one in five consumers felt quality was extremely important.

The national survey was conducted by the NRF Foundation, an arm of the National Retail Federation, and the American Express Company.

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