Survey: For Retailers, 2012 Is “All About Customer”

In 2012, retailers are increasing their focus on the customer and are using technology to do it, says a new report from the NRF Foundation and KPMG.

“Retailers are poised to enter 2012 with a renewed focus on building up and building out many of their most important operations, hoping to establish a new sense of brand loyalty with all of their customers,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a statement. “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.”

According to the survey, nearly 67 percent of companies rank customer satisfaction as the top strategic initiative for 2012, and 82 percent say customer service strategies will be their top priority in the coming year, up from 75 percent last year.

For the first time in the survey’s 10-year history, retailers’ websites or online channels eclipsed physical stores as the top channel for marketers—81 percent for brick-and-mortar vs. 86 percent online.

Retail executives also said they will invest in programs that directly resonate with today’s shopper. According to the survey, 85 percent will emphasize increasing online sales, up from 83 percent in 2011, and 38 percent will have a greater focus on increasing m-commerce sales over the next year, up from 29 percent in 2011.

More than 53 percent of those surveyed say they will specifically focus on web personalization engines in the coming months. Retailers also said enhancing handheld technologies, such as mobile point-of-sale, will be a core focus over the next 18 months. While 17 percent already use mobile POS technologies in their store, an additional 33 percent indicate they plan further POS investments during that timeframe.

Other survey findings:

  • 33 percent reported increases of greater than 5 percent in same store sales in 2011, up from 21 percent in 2010.
  • 52 percent will increase associate training, up from 39 percent last year.
  • 35 of respondents will focus on solidifying their price optimization technologies over the next 18 months.
  • 59 percent say new customer acquisition is their top strategic priority for 2012, up from 55 percent in 2011.

The report—Retail Horizons: Benchmarks for 2011, Forecasts for 2012—surveyed 247 retail executives from various sectors, outlines retailers’ top strategic initiatives for 2012 including merchandising, e-commerce, store and field operations, supply chain, and human capital.

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