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Overall Customer Experience: A Taste of the Top 100 Retailers

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Retail Customer Experience recently issued its Top 100 retailers as far as overall customer experience. The results include online, brick-and-mortar, and omni-channel experiences.

While the list is long, we’ll only focus on a handful of these worthy recipients, in no particular order, except for the top dog in retail, which is a repeat winner, Amazon. Everyone in retail envies its success. Amazon is just a fact of retail life that isn’t going away.

7-Eleven is another winner, with nearly 57,000 worldwide locations. It’s notable in that it’s been around since 1927 and 88 years later, it’s received accolades for its community service and support of military veterans; voted tops in the convenience-store category; was the first to stay open 24 hours and sell fresh coffee in to-go cups; offer self-serve soda; and was the first convenience store to sell pre-paid phone cards and offer in-store ATMs to customers in 1984.

Ace Hardware (named for the skilled WWI fighter pilots) also ranks way up there. For a brand that’s been around since 1924, the fact that Ace can brag about its biggest sales and profit in its history, in the third quarter of 2015, really says something.

Its honors include highest customer satisfaction among home improvement stores nine years in a row, according to J.D. Power; No. 2 on Career Bliss’ list of “happiest retailers to work for in 2015”; No. 6 on the Franchise Times Top 200 list; No. 24 on the NRF’s STORES Magazine’s Hot 100 list; and Ace was named “America’s Favorite Home Improvement Store” by a Market Force study.

Founded in 1921, Walgreens’ commitment to health care, in addition to its innovation and customer engagement, was evident when it started offering virtual doctor visits through its mobile app. This service now is available in 25 states, with more to follow.

Walgreens was also the first retailer to integrate its loyalty program into Apple’s Wallet/Apple Pay system. With more than 85 million active Balance Rewards members, the partnership with Apple offers a more efficient checkout procedure for customers.

After 70 years in business, North Carolina-based Lowe’s opened its first New York City location and it boasted lots of interactive technology, making it as customer-friendly and engaging as possible. As one of the highest-ranking stores on the list in all four categories of Customer Service; Online Experience; Brick-and-Mortar Experience; and Overall Customer Experience, Lowe’s innovative virtual reality design tool enables customers to design the room of their dreams.

We can’t ignore the grocery category and one of the standouts of the bunch was Kroger. Founded in 1883, Kroger ranked 8th in Overall Customer Experience. In 2015, the chain incorporated new data analytics to use customer and consumer trend data regarding purchase activity, hoping to be more competitive in the crowded grocery sector. These new systems will make data tracking easier and improve customer loyalty programs, and enable more personalized marketing programs.

Then there’s Wal-Mart. A grocery pick-up service was initiated in 2015 to make shopping easier. Holiday shopping was given special attention so that the Christmas rush would be much less stressful on customers, and apparently it paid off. Raising its minimum wage to $10 an hour was a boon for employees as well as Wal-Mart’s image. It will also be expanding associate training and hiring 8,000 more department managers, with the strategy of creating more engaged associates taking better care of their customers.

While there are plenty of “newer” retailers in the top 100, one of the most interesting things to note is that the customer favorites highlighted here are at least 50 years old. Looks like the brick-and-mortar store will be around for a while longer.

TAGS: retail, retail trends, retailers, customer service,
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