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Trader Joe’s rates high in customer experience, reports study

Grocer leads all multichannel retailers in Forrester ranking

Trader Joe’s ranked first among multichannel retailers in Forrester Research’s 2018 U.S. Customer Experience Index.

Based on a survey of more than 110,000 U.S. adults, the Forrester CX Index aims to measure and rank how well a brand’s customer experience strengthens shopper loyalty. The Cambridge, Mass.-based research firm benchmarked the customer experience quality at 287 U.S. brands, including 42 leading multichannel retailers.

Sixteen of the retailers on the list came from the food, drug and mass channel, led by No. 1 finisher Trader Joe’s, which made its debut in the CX Index this year. Also making the top 10 were Costco Wholesale Club at No. 2, up from seventh in 2017, and BJ’s Wholesale Club at No. 5, up one spot from last year.

“Eighty-seven percent of Trader Joe’s shoppers said their experience of shopping with the brand was easy, well ahead of the other multichannel retailers we measured in the U.S. CX Index. It also delivered an impressive 69 positive customer experiences for each negative one, the highest among the 287 brands featured in the 2018 U.S. CX Index,” Forrester said in its report.

“Trader Joe’s small, easy-to-navigate store formats, curated assortments, cult private-label products and friendly customer service all help deliver unique value in the hypercompetitive grocery world,” the researcher noted. “One of the great ironies of its top position is that it has a rudimentary digital footprint and no owned e-commerce presence.”

Other food, drug and mass retailers in the 2018 CX Index ranking were Walgreens (No. 11), Sam’s Club (No. 12), Aldi (No. 15), Kroger (No. 18), CVS (No. 25), Save-A-Lot (No. 26), Target (No. 29), Rite Aid (No. 31), Whole Foods (No. 33), Albertsons (No. 37), Safeway (No. 38), Walmart (No. 40) and Kmart (No. 42). Of these chains, Aldi, Kroger, Save-A-Lot, Whole Foods, Albertsons and Safeway weren’t on last year’s list.

Costco was one of three retailers in the CX Index — also including Barnes & Noble and Kohl’s — that had statistically significant increases in its score, Forrester reported.

“The percentage of Costco shoppers who reported having effective experiences with the brand was higher than that of all the other multichannel retailers we measured in the U.S. CX Index,” the study said. “The warehouse clubs all fare well in Forrester’s rankings, but it’s no surprise that Costco rises to the top in light of its strong product assortment, generous return policy and recent investments in e-commerce, which have led to strong double-digit, year-over-year online sales growth.”

In a Forrester poll of more than 31,000 U.S. adults who interacted with a multichannel retailer in the past 12 months, 78% named communication and 75% cited website and mobile app as areas where retailers performed well. That compared with 66% for customer service; 65% for products and services; 64% for returns, exchanges and refunds; 61% for stores; 59% for prices and fees; and 50% for “respects me as a customer” among the eight areas Forrester identified as drivers of customer experience quality.

“Multichannel retail shoppers find using a brand’s website on their computers the most effective way to meet their needs — better than live, in-person interactions, for example,” Forrester noted in the CX Index report. “Because consumers often research online even before purchasing in stores, a brand’s site helps a customer ‘know before they go.’ This information helps make the store visit more efficient, as shoppers can quickly find items that they know are in stores.”

In terms of getting assistance or questions answered, shoppers said that having a knowledgeable store associate nearby is the most convenient solution, more so than online chat. Customers also indicated they like receiving email from retailers.

“The channel that evoked the greatest amount of positive sentiment and the least amount of negative sentiment was emails from the brand, with social media close behind,” according to Forrester. “We believe it’s because shoppers browse less in stores since they’ve done more online research, and part of that research comes from email and social media recommendations, where shoppers often discover offers and products.”

Customer loyalty to multichannel retailers strengthens when shoppers feel appreciated, happy or valued, the study found. Of customers who said they felt appreciated, an average of 90% plan to stay with the brand, 89% will advocate for the brand and 86% plan to spend more with the brand.

Conversely, Forrester said making customers feel annoyed, disappointed or frustrated is “the most harmful thing you can do to their loyalty.” On average among shoppers who feel annoyed, only 15% will advocate for the brand, 20% will stick with the brand and 20% will spend more.

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