Satisfaction with local supermarkets has dropped significantly, according to a new survey published by the South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SAcsi).
A sample of 2,059 customers surveyed found that the average industry score was 4.9 index points lower (at 75.7) than the satisfaction recorded in September 2014 (80.6).
The brands measured included South Africa’s largest shopping retailers: Woolworths, Shoprite, Checkers, Pick n Pay and Spar.
Woolworths topped the list with a score of 80.7 out of 100, giving the brand leadership position for the second year in a row.
The other brands scored on par with the industry average. Shoprite and Checkers both scored 77.1 out of 100, ahead of Pick n Pay (76.2), while Spar was last with a score of 75.7 out of 100.
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“Income and spending remain under pressure as a result of various economic factors including the decline of the rand, slow economic growth, employment levels and a challenging economic environment.
Retailers’ satisfaction scores across the board declined from 2014 to 2015, with not a single exception amongst the brands,” said Prof. Adré Schreuder, founder of SAcsi and CEO of Consulta.
SAcsi noted that although Shoprite’s scores declined, it was less marked than the other brands. Three years ago Shoprite scored the lowest in customer satisfaction.
“This score improved in 2014 and this year, Shoprite is in a close second position, just behind Woolworths, despite serving different target markets, it said.
Checkers and Shoprite achieved the same overall satisfaction score, however Shoprite outperformed Checkers in the indicator of perceived value (value for money).
Shorite Group owns both Shoprite, and Checkers brands.
SAcsi noted that Checkers’ overall satisfaction score is significantly lower at 76 compared to 83 in 2014 – a decline mirrored by Pick n Pay.
Spar scored lowest in overall satisfaction for the second year in a row.
“The trading environment for supermarkets is changing. More customers are shopping online, making it possible for customers to compare prices and shop where they receive the best value for money.”
“More consumers are eating out at home, meaning they are buying prepared foods at supermarkets to eat at home. Quality is seen as paramount for these shoppers,” said Schreuder.
Woolworths leads with the highest perceived quality score, despite a decline of 3.3 index points from 2014.
“A total of 47% of respondents indicated that they would shop at different stores to achieve a cost saving of 5% or less. With economic pressures likely to increase over the next 12 months, trading conditions will be tough,” said Schreuder.
Spar, Pick ‘n Pay and Checkers experienced the highest levels of complaints. Specific issues mentioned were products sold past the expiry date, product availability issues (especially products on promotion) and incorrect pricing.
Spar customers reported the highest levels of complaints, yet the brand appears to be addressing problems most effectively, achieving a complaint resolution score of 71 out of 100 compared to the industry average of 67, SAcsi said.
While complaints are lowest among customers of Woolworths and Shoprite (11% of customer surveyed), it is significant that Woolworths saw a 14 index point drop in their complaint handling capabilities from 2014 (71) to 2015 (57).
“This presents an opportunity to ensure that customer complaints are effectively handled, especially given the low loyalty scores attributed to a price-sensitive industry such as supermarkets,” said Schreuder.
The Net Promoter Score is a measure of the likelihood of customers to recommend a particular brand. Woolworths scored 57%, well above the average of 37% for the industry, followed by Shoprite (44.9%). Spar reported the lowest score at 28% and is the only brand that scored below industry average.