Brands get better at connecting retail and e-tail

Retailers are delivering a better experience online than in-store as they combine intelligence gleaned from CRM, social media and personalisation data to improve customer engagement, according to a study.


Retailers are delivering a better experience online than in-store, according to a new study.

This year’s list of the top 100 brands for customer experience, compiled by research consultancy Nunwood and based on a poll of 7,500 customers, reveals that customer experience online across the UK is improving.

Across all non-food retail, customers scored their experiences on average 5 per cent higher when they engaged with a retailer online-only compared to face-to-face. The trend was repeated for supermarkets. Waitrose, with 5.5 per cent, saw the biggest rise.

Craig Ryder, retail analyst at Nunwood, says companies, particularly in the grocery category, are starting to overcome some of the fundamental problems inherent in selling products online.

He adds: [Grocery brands’] availability, substitution strategy and online presentation are second to none. Compared to running stores, running an online proposition is also much less open to risks such as the weather and stocking issues. Brands are starting to realise this now and looking to make more curated and premium customer experiences online that bring in things like CRM, social media and user reviews to provide a more premium customer experience.”

It is an approach that has been adopted by second place John Lewis, which has moved to integrate its store, online and mobile offerings further this year to encourage shoppers to interact with the brand across multiple channels. The retailer’s multi channel experience was rated 5 per cent higher than its in-store offering.

The study also highlights a clear link between brands providing a consistently strong customer experiences and the likelihood of re-purchasing or making a recommendation. On average shoppers are 5 per cent more likely to recommend or re-purchase from a brand that made the top 100 compared to a random sample of brands that were not on the list. This increases to 10 per cent for those brands in the top 20.

The Co-operative Bank was one of the biggest risers, jumping from 52 in 2011 to seventh in this year’s list. The bank has launched a several initiatives since the start of the year to position itself as an ethically, consumer-focused alternative to high street banks. Indeed, last month the business introduced a bonus scheme for staff based on customer service.

Traditional high-street banks either fell down the rankings or dropped out of the Top 100 entirely.

Respondents showed a marked increase in the scores given to these banks when it came to questions around integrity with those brands that made the top 100 scoring on average 13 per cent higher than those that did not.

It shows the importance of ethical practice, sustainability and CSR when it comes to the bottom line, according to Nunwood.

Ryder says: “Brands are getting better at delivering customer experience across the UK, but there’s a sweet spot they can achieve if they look to balance their online experience with what goes on in bricks and mortar stores. There’s a real premier league of brands emerging like John Lewis that are injecting more personality into there stores to really give their consumers an experience that is fast matching the premium environment they are increasingly producing online.”

Customer experience top 10

RankBrandRank 2011
2John Lewis2
4First Direct16
6M&S Food6
7The Co-operative Bank59
8Green Flag79
10Virgin Atlantic3

BrandMultichannel vs Store
Debenhams+4 per cent
Dorothy Perkins+15 per cent
Halfords+5 per cent
John Lewis+5 per cent
M&S+3 per cent
Matalan+ 5 per cent
Next+ 6 per cent
River Island+3 per cent
Sports Direct+6 per cent
Superdrug+6 per cent



Readers' comments (2)

  • It’s great to see that customers are becoming increasingly satisfied with the service that they receive from brands, and great to see that more businesses are beginning to think very clearly about the benefits of linking data from different sources and creating a Single Customer View (SCV).

    Making sure that you are targeting customers with effective communications is a key part of this battle to boost customer satisfaction. Experian undertook some research earlier on in the this year which found that the majority of customers would walk away from brands that got their marketing wrong – with 84% saying they’d walk away from a brand that made a simple marketing mistake, such as getting in touch via the wrong channel.

    Once brands can build a truly full picture of each of their customers at a granular level, satisfaction will be vastly boosted. The same research indicated that 43% would return to an organisation that gets its marketing right. Clearly, today’s consumers are ready to reward businesses that treat them as an individual, meaning that everyone is a winner.

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  • Hi Nigel,

    Creating a single repository of all things related to customers experience is a great first step on the road to designing effective customer processes.

    Most organisations start from the logical, but incorrect, perspective of how they can engineer this process to sell more. Consequently the brand experience tends to fail.

    A strong brand is not formed by merely communicating with consumers through marketing activity. It also requires a business to consider how else perceptions are formed and strengthened (or weakened). It needs to engineer a consistent and cohesive Customer Experience to strengthen the consumer's relationship with the business. In the long term this then leads to a return on investment as there is a proven link between customer loyalty repeat purchase.

    This is what we are trying to achieve with the customer experience excellence report, by placing emphasis on the organisations that excel in providing customer experience we can highlight why they do so and what we can learn from them.
    Once again thanks for your comment,

    Craig Ryder
    Consulting Director

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