Lush has joined Amazon and John Lewis as the nation’s favourite retailers – knocking Apple out of the top three – according to the fifth annual Retail Propositions Index published today by OC&C Strategy Consultants.
As part of this year’s Retail Propositions Index, 40,000 shoppers around the globe, including 10,000 in the UK, were asked to rate retailers on measures including price, range and value for money.
The research revealed that Lush has joined the UK’s top three retailers after the British public awarded the brand the highest ratings for customer service, store look, and product quality. In the overall rankings, Amazon and John Lewis kept their respective first and second places on the podium for the fifth year running.
This year’s report revealed that, for the first time, customer service overtook price as the primary factor influencing how shoppers rate retailers overall. Despite ongoing supermarket wars over price and convenience, the findings expose a direct correlation between customer service and growth. Retailers which scored in the top 25% for service also saw on average 10% annual revenue growth over the last five years.
Matt Coode, partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants said: “This year’s report is further proof that customer service should be much higher up the retail CEO’s agenda. Our research shows that customers’ judgement of service boils down to five key areas which, in order of importance, are: ease of shop (be it in store, online or on mobile); speed of checkout; personal and expert advice; slick post-sales support; and consistent and seamless service on and offline.
“It goes to show there is no single formula to winning in service, as exemplified by the differences between two of the best in breed: Amazon with its relentless obsession with efficiency and simplicity, and Lush with its emphasis on staff being attentive and giving useful advice to make customers feel pampered and special.”
But while the best British retailers are delivering great customer service, in general, the UK is falling behind its international counterparts. Nearly half (46%) of US consumers have been delighted by the level of service they received in US shops, compared to under a third (32%) of UK shoppers.
When looking specifically at customer service ratings, eight of the top 10 retailers come from the US, including employee-owned supermarket chain Publix, Trader Joe’s and Apple. By comparison, just two British retailers, Lush and John Lewis, made the cut.
The research also reveals that the ingredients of great service differ in importance by country and by category. For example, a quick and easy shopping experience is most important to UK shoppers while in mainland Europe personal advice and recommendations are key.
Coode continued: “There are a number of things UK retailers can do to close the gap on international competition. Firstly, decide which elements of service they need to be great at and invest accordingly. “Secondly, don’t assume that a focus on value is an excuse get complacent about service. Thirdly, use technology to enhance rather than replace the human touch. And finally, think of people as capital, not cost – investing in, motivating and training colleagues to deliver great service will not only enhance retention, but also deliver valuable competitive advantage in the long run.
“As a company with a targeted and simple approach to service, US grocer Trader Joe’s is a particularly good example of these tactics in action. Employees are trained to be friendly and helpful so that, despite its reputation for affordability, Trader Joe’s excels in the service stakes. The company is proof that value for money means more than simply being good on price, and consumers increasingly refuse to sacrifice one for the other.”
Nadya Candy, global retail standards & customer experience at Lush, said: “Throughout every level of the business at Lush, we understand the importance and care about each visitor we have. We employ teams who are genuinely passionate about people, animals and the environment and these teams work hard to ensure that our customers receive not just great customer service, but a great Lush customer experience which is genuine, exciting and includes our beautiful fresh handmade products. We are happy that our customers appreciate our efforts, as we strive to make every visitor feel welcome and valued.”