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Retailers to focus on customer experience in 2012

Retailers plan to focus heavily on the customer experience and customer service as part of an effort to generate sales and engage consumers in 2012.

An annual study by the National Retail Federation surveyed 247 retail executives in various sectors. Nearly 67 percent of the companies surveyed list customer satisfaction as the top initiative in 2012.

Nearly 82 percent said that customer service strategies will be a top priority, up from 75 percent in 2011. In addition, 59 percent of retailers plan to make new customer acquisition a top priority in 2012, up from 55 percent last year.

“Retailers are poised to enter 2012 with a renewed focus on building up and building out many of their most important operations,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Though customers are always a company’s top priority, customer satisfaction will get a huge facelift this year. From increasing their brand visibility through cross-channel initiatives to providing unique, personalized shopping experiences through every channel, retailers have indicated 2012 is all about the customer.”

Since the study was first conducted 10 years ago, online retailers and retail websites have passed stores as the top marketing channel. Eighty-five percent of retailers in the survey said that they planned to increase online sales.

More retailers also plan to capitalize on emerging social media and mobile markets. As part of an effort to enhance the shopping experience for mobile-savvy customers, 33 percent of retailers said that they plan to invest more in point-of-sale technology. Forty-five percent of companies revealed that they are developing applications to be incorporated into social media, while 41 percent plan to start development in those areas within the next 18 months.

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