Caitlin Storhaug
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September 12, 2006
Customer Service, Product Selection Falls Short of Shopper’s Expectations, Accenture Survey Finds

Accenture to open center to help address significant gap between what shoppers want and what they find in stores

NEW YORK; Sept, 12, 2006 – Retailers and consumer goods companies are not meeting shoppers’ needs in two key areas – product selection and customer service. These two factors, however, are the most influential in determining where people shop and what they buy, according to a new survey by Accenture.

In a survey of 575 U.S consumers, almost three-quarters (72 percent) of respondents reported that customer service had a significant influence on whether or not they buy something. More than half (54 percent), however, said that helpful customer service was lacking in stores, and even more (58 percent) said there were not enough salespeople available to help them. Only 35 percent of those surveyed said they were able to get help “most or all” of the time when they needed it.

Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of those surveyed said good product selection played a key role in their decision of where to shop. Yet, more than one-third (38 percent) said limited selection was a common problem they encountered while shopping.

“It’s significant that the two chief factors influencing purchase decisions are the same ones that shoppers complain about most,” said Keith Barringer, global managing director, Accenture’s Consumer Goods & Service practice. “Manufacturers and retailers that bridge this gap to offer better product selection and customer service can reap the rewards – improved sales and margins, for example – of turning shoppers into loyal customers. Bridging the gap, however, takes a dedication to innovation and the ability to be truly customer-centric.”

To help companies bridge that gap, Accenture created the Accenture Customer Innovation Network where clients can see new technology and participate in structured innovation sessions to help their companies achieve higher levels of performance. The latest Center in the Network opened in Chicago this month. The first Center was opened in Dusseldorf, Germany and an additional center is planned for Shanghai, China.

Nearly all of the consumers surveyed (98 percent) said they need product information before or while purchasing a product. But, as another sign of the gap that exists between what shoppers want and what they get, less than half (48 percent) said they were able to obtain this information most of the time.

“Companies looking to perform better would be well-served to spend time and effort determining what product and service improvements they can make that will connect with their target customers’ needs,” said Jeff Smith, global managing director, Accenture’s Retail practice. “The first step in this process is to determine who that target customer is and what she or he wants.”

Fortunately, it seems there is no shortage of shoppers. Four out of five of those surveyed (80 percent) said they predominantly shop in stores instead of online and more than half (58 percent) report they shop in a store between two and six times a week.

Other survey findings include:

The Web-based survey of 575 U.S. consumers age 18 and older was fielded in July 2006.

About Accenture
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Committed to delivering innovation, Accenture collaborates with its clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With deep industry and business process expertise, broad global resources and a proven track record, Accenture can mobilize the right people, skills and technologies to help clients improve their performance. With more than 133,000 people in 48 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$15.55 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2005. Its home page is