Market Force Information’s new grocery retailer study contains no good news for Walmart: It shows the company lagging far behind grocery-selling peers on a “Delight Index” that combines customer satisfaction with likelihood to recommend a store to friends and family:
In addition to questions about shopping satisfaction, the survey asked its 6,600 respondents to rank grocers on a variety of attributes. Though Walmart is the biggest grocer in the U.S., it couldn’t manage to crack the top five in any of the operational excellence attributes—such as cleanliness, atmosphere, and fast check-out—or in any of the product quality, health, and sustainability attributes, including high-quality meat and produce and sustainable/green practices.
Grocery is a very competitive business—so what can a company do to differentiate itself? According to Market Force’s Chief Marketing Officer, “We start to see the greatest opportunities for differentiation in operations-related attributes such as fast check-outs, gracious staff and atmosphere.”
That doesn’t bode well for Walmart, which has been running into operations failure after operations failure as it reaches the limits of its cut-costs-to-the-bone business model. Two weeks ago, retail industry veteran Walter Loeb publicly chastised the company for the “total disarray” he experienced during a visit to a Massachusetts Walmart store. CNBC highlighted the effect of the company’s extremely low staffing levels on grocery quality. And major news outlets like Bloomberg and The New York Times have been echoing what Walmart associates themselves have said for years now: the company’s systematic understaffing is at the root of its well-known struggles to keep shelves stocked or adequately serve customers.
Will this survey be a wake-up call to Walmart leadership? Sound off in the comments.