Amazon, Walmart connect with shoppers

14 December 2012

NEW YORK: Amazon, Victoria's Secret and Walmart are the retailers securing the greatest levels of "emotional attachment" among US shoppers, with Target, H&M and Best Buy also performing strongly.

NewMediaMetrics, the marketing firm, asked 4,250 people aged 13–64 years old to rate retailers they had bought items from in the last year on a ten-point scale, with scores of nine or ten points indicating a tight bond with customers, Forbes reported.

Overall, Amazon, the ecommerce pioneer, led the rankings as 46.6% of its clientele handed it nine or ten points, an increase compared with 44.4% in 2011.

"We remain ... focused on driving a better customer experience through price, selection and convenience," Tom Szkutak, Amazon's chief financial officer, said on its latest conference call. "We believe putting customers first is the only reliable way to create lasting value for shareholders."

Victoria's Secret, the lingerie and women's clothing chain, claimed second position on 46.2%, up from 42.8% in 2011. These totals stood at 43.9% and 41.8% for Walmart, the country's biggest retailer.

Mike Duke, the CEO of Walmart, stated recently that low prices are still a "major factor", not least as consumers grow more aware of the "fiscal cliff", the name given to the tax rises and spending cuts set to come into force in the US as of December 31.

"The week before the election, only one fourth, 25%, of our core customers even knew what 'fiscal cliff' meant. One week after the election it was up to 75%. Now … 15% of our customers are telling us the conversation on the fiscal cliff will affect their Christmas spending," he said.

Target, another mass market operator, also logged an improvement from 39.4% to 40.2% on this metric. GameStop, the video game expert, enjoyed a lift of 4.5 percentage points to 38.5%.

H&M, the fast-fashion specialist, recorded 38.3%, a leap of 4.2 percentage points, while Best Buy was up by over five percentage points, to 34.2%.

A poll of 2,249 shoppers by Harris Interactive, the research firm, found 43% had engaged in "showrooming", or looking at goods in store before buying online. Some 24% of this group did so at Best Buy branches, standing at 22% for Walmart.

In-house figures from Best Buy suggest that around 7% of its customers use smartphones to check prices in this way, but the firm is hoping the experience it provides will undermine such a trend.

"Best Buy has completely embraced showrooming," Shandra Tollefson, from its PR team, told Spokesman.com. "We see those customers in the store as ours to lose."

Data sourced from Forbes, Council on Foreign Relations, Spokesman.com