Walmart, Target, The Kroger Co. and Albertsons Cos. are among the grocery retailers named as omnichannel customer service leaders in a new study from digital retail and brand researcher Incisiv.
The 2022 Omnichannel Customer Service Index from Jacksonville, Fla.-based Incisiv, released yesterday benchmarked 102 retailers across eight sectors in 110 digital capabilities. Companies were evaluated in three main areas: customer engagement and service speed (effectiveness of customer service interactions, covering 55 attributes), purchase (ease of placing and receiving orders, 35 attributes) and discovery (availability of information and assistance at every step, 20 attributes).
Mass merchants Walmart and Target were among 16 retailers and brands recognized as overall omnichannel customer service leaders. Other chains included such popular retailers as Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Best Buy, Ulta Beauty, Sephora, Bed Bath & Beyond, Belk, Ace Hardware, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Lane Bryant and REI.
“Leaders offer the richest omnichannel customer-service experience within and across retail segments. They lead in adoption of differentiated experiences and are functionally mature across most assessment areas,” Incisiv said in the study, done in partnership with Genesys, a provider of omnichannel customer experience and contact center solutions.
Grocery retailers accounted for seven of the 16 companies tabbed as omnichannel customer service leaders in purchase, including Albertsons, BJ’s Wholesale Club, H-E-B, Publix Super Markets, Target, Kroger and Whole Foods Market.
Incisiv’s report noted that grocers have made “huge strides” in fulfillment — particularly in buy-online-pickup-in-store (BOPIS) service, where the grocery industry’s 83% adoption rate topped the 78% average across sectors (55% for curbside pickup). That’s key as 85% of shoppers aim to use BOPIS more often. In the area of purchase, though, only 6% of grocers assessed offer the ability of agents to help with payments, well below the retail industry average of 36%.
“Grocers and general merchandise retailers offer the most advanced ordering and fulfillment capabilities, such as the ability to contact order pickers, flexible delivery and pickup options, expedited delivery and real-time order tracking,” according to Incisiv. “While 55% retailers allow shoppers to cancel an order, only 25% retailers across formats offer the ability to modify an order (add/delete items) on their own once it is placed.”
Grocery retailers lagged in the other two key omnichannel service areas. None were among the retail leaders in discovery, and grocers had the lowest adoption rates in visibility of search history (13% versus a retail sector average of 34%) and in the ability of agents to help with product information (29% versus an average of 82%).
Target and Walmart were among the omnichannel leaders in customer service and engagement, with grocery showing the highest adoption of on-demand live chat at 92% versus a retail industry average of 80%, the Incisiv study indicated. Still, the grocers evaluated showed the lowest adoption of the ability of chat agents to help customers with returns, at a rate of 43% versus an average of 87%.
“Department stores and apparel stores have strong service capabilities in the form of availability of service information, channels of customer service, chat options and live support,” Incisiv observed in the report. “Grocery retailers, on the other hand, due volume and nature of products, have the least-mature customer service capabilities.”
Overall, just 15% of the retailers examined provide a differentiating omnichannel customer-service experience, according to Incisiv. What’s more, Incisiv identified one in two brick-and-mortar retailers as “laggards” or “followers” in terms of omnichannel customer service.
Other key findings included the following:
• 90% of shoppers start their buying journey online (via product research), but only 30% are satisfied with the service in the discovery phase of the experience.
• Search is the No. 1 friction area for customers. Just 32% are satisfied with search and filtering capabilities on retailer websites.
• 70% of shoppers who put items in their virtual cart abandon their planned purchase. Twenty percent of shoppers say they would abandon their cart due to a lengthy checkout process (i.e. more than three steps).
• 62% of customers who experience a failed online transaction won’t return to the retailer.
• 89% of shoppers are more apt to buy again following a positive customer-service experience.
• 91% of customers deem the ability of retailers to listen to them and understand their challenges as the most important element of service.
“The past two years have impacted humanity in deep and transformative ways, including what we, as shoppers, value. Retailers will have to build and refine capabilities to serve these new expectations,” Amarjot Mokha, chief operating officer at Incisiv, said in a statement.“Our goal with the Omnichannel Customer Service Index is to help retailers identify high-impact improvement opportunities based on a nuanced view of what drives superior customer service. Adopting foundational and advanced capabilities can help retailers improve their digital performance KPIs and competitive strategy by promptly adapting to consumers’ omnichannel service needs.”
Other food, drug and mass retailers assessed in the Incisiv study included Amazon, Costco Wholesale, CVS Health, Dollar General, Dollar Tree/Family Dollar, Hy-Vee, Kmart, Meijer, Rite Aid, ShopRite, Walgreens and Wegmans Food Markets.