Walmart U.S. CEO Greg Foran has been focused on improving store efficiencies and making shopping easier for the retailer’s 140 million weekly customers. Foran told Talk Business & Politics in June 2018 there was still much work to do to get the 4,100-plus stores in shape. And there is more work to do.
A recent consumer survey by Retail Feedback Group examined the grocery shopping experiences of shoppers among regional and national supermarkets chains, Aldi and Walmart. RFG compiled the data into a 38-page report that ranks the retailers on shopping satisfaction.
Supermarkets and Walmart show increased expected visits frequency, but Aldi shoppers anticipate even more future usage, the report states. Roughly 22% of respondents said they will shop at supermarkets over the next 12 months, and just 6% said they plan to shop less. That compares to 28% of consumers who said they will shop Walmart over the next 12 months, and 42% who said they would shop Aldi, up from 33% planning to shop Aldi in the previous survey. Walmart and Aldi do have consistent loyalty bases that overlap in some markets.
The survey found supermarket chains had the strongest overall satisfaction score comprised on eight metrics retailers were scored on by consumers.That list included quality and freshness of food, store cleanliness, item variety, customer service, checkout efficiency, employee helpfulness and availability, and overall value.
On a scale of 5, supermarket chains ranked the highest with a core experience rating of 4.31. Aldi was slightly lower at 4.27 and Walmart scored 3.93. The survey found supermarket chains had the highest scores in quality and variety, but Aldi had the top score in value and higher overall satisfaction score of 4.3 during peak hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Supermarket chains had peak satisfaction rating of 4.27 and Walmart’s score was 3.98.
Walmart and Aldi each outscored supermarket chains in the value metric, according to the survey. Aldi shoppers give value for money spent the highest mark (4.51) versus Walmart shoppers (4.32) and supermarket shoppers (4.17), according to the report.
“Value still remains a very important consideration for supermarket retailers with more than seven out of ten shoppers referring to sales vehicles before or during the visit to the store,” said Brian Numainville, principal at RFG.
He said supermarkets still largely play the advertised sales game, which differs from Walmart’s everyday low price and Aldi’s always discounted prices. Numainville said supermarkets perform well with Boomers who look for sales in printed circulars more than other age demographics.
“Retailers need to remain attentive to the trends in their local markets to ensure they are communicating value using the vehicles most relevant to their shoppers,” Numainville stated.
With the exception of value for money spent, Walmart shoppers score Walmart lowest on the other core experience factors relative to supermarkets and Aldi. Also, Aldi is now tied with supermarkets on quality and freshness (56% “highly satisfied”), with Walmart trailing at 46%, the report noted.
“Aldi continues to make inroads in competing against supermarkets with strong value for money spent and likelihood to recommend scores, as well as perceived improvement in quality, coupled with the highest overall satisfaction scores during the peak traffic periods,” said Doug Madenberg, principal at RFG.
He said as Aldi continues to remodel stores and expand into new locations, supermarkets and Walmart will have to step up their game in areas like staff availability and helpfulness and continue to work on store variety and speediness of checkout.
RFG reports Aldi has the highest Net Promoter Score at 44.8, with supermarkets overall at 40.7 and Walmart trailing at 27.1 A Net Promoter Score is an index that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others. This score is used a proxy from gauging customer service satisfaction ratings and customer loyalty.
While this survey does show supermarket chains rank well for customer service, Walmart had the largest overall grocery chain in the country with roughly 23% per of the total grocery market share in 2018, Kroger ranks second at 10.1%. Walmart continues to report strong same-store sales which are being fueled by its grocery business. While Walmart is a big box retailer offering a large assortment of general merchandise, groceries still accounted for 56% or $178 billion of the retailer’s U.S. sales in fiscal 2018.
“The food business continues as a bright spot,” Moody’s Investors Service Inc. analyst Charlie O’Shea said of Walmart in late 2018.