Simplicity pays

We all have our pet peeves when it comes to what we like and don’t like about certain retailers. Although what each of us wants from a shopping experience is somewhat subjective most of you would probably agree with me that certain retailers are able to check off most of your boxes and some just never do.

Personally, I have always had a stress-free time shopping at LL Bean. I can easily find things, the store is always well stocked, their employees know a lot of about their products’ features and on the rare occasion they don’t have the size or color I want of something they offer to ship the item to my home for free. By contrast, I would rather stand in a pit of snakes than ever step foot in another Best Buy, where despite numerous chances to prove their retail worth to me, they never seem to have what I am looking for, nor do they have many knowledgeable employees or even competitive prices.

A group of researchers at Manhattan-based Siegel+Gale recently set out to discover just what if any impact experiences like mine can have on a retailer’s bottom line. And, not surprisingly, they found a link between simplicity and revenue, loyalty and innovation at retail, the findings of which can be found in its Global Brand Simplicity Index 2013 report.

Of all of the information contained in their report the biggest takeaway by far was that not only are consumers driven to retailers who offer them a simple experience, they are willing to pay more for it. In fact, Siegel+Gale’s researchers found U.S. consumers would pay as much as 4% more in order to have simpler grocery experiences.

Overall, consumers view the grocery industry as relatively simple. The category finished sixth in the global index and fourth in the U.S. Among the U.S. grocery retailers ranked in the top 50 were such companies as Publix (#7), Trader Joe’s (#12), Kroger (#18), Whole Foods Market (the grocery retailer moved up 17 spots from last year’s index to #24), Albertsons (#30) and Safeway (#45).

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that people’s lives are so complex, retailers who offer simplicity enable customers to make clear and easy decisions, which in turn earns them trust and greater loyalty.

In discussing these findings, Margaret Molloy, Siegel+Gale’s global chief marketing officer, told me that when they analyzed how industries stack up in terms of simplicity, the top five industries (internet search, restaurants, internet retail, grocery and electronics) have been fairly consistent during each of the four years the study has been conducted. “My guess is that it is because the offerings in these industries have a direct impact on peoples’ daily lives and their utility is apparent,” says Molloy.

When they looked at the customer ‘touch points’ in grocery, researchers found that shoppers consider navigating the store website, self checkout and returning products to be the most complex aspects of their interactions. Meanwhile, Molloy says checking out at a cashier and understanding promotions were deemed to be the simplest points of interaction.



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