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December 03, 2004
Product Quality and Customer Service Top List of Reasons Why U.S. Holiday Shoppers Select Specific Retailers, Accenture Survey Finds

Not Surprisingly, Reasonable Prices Also Important Factor

NEW YORK; Dec. 3, 2004—Product quality and customer service top the list of criteria that U.S. shoppers are using to select where they will shop this holiday season, according to results of a survey released today by Accenture (NYSE: ACN).

The survey of 800 U.S. consumers found that more than nine in 10 (91 percent) respondents said that product quality was an important reason for choosing one retailer over another. At the same time, the vast majority of respondents (85 percent) said that customer service is an important factor. Not surprisingly, a similar number of respondents (85 percent) said that reasonable prices is also an important factor, followed closely by product availability (82 percent).

“Our findings confirm that consumers are willing to spend more on what they believe are high-quality goods,” said Janet Hoffman, a partner in Accenture’s Retail & Consumer practice. “At the same time, consumers are increasingly demanding better customer service. Smart retailers will investigate what customer service means to their target consumers and will deliver that in addition to high-quality products.”

When asked to define the one thing that would improve their holiday shopping experience, the greatest number of respondents — 51 percent — cited an increased number of sales clerks, followed by more items in-stock (23 percent), a guaranteed delivery date for out-of-stock items (14 percent) and better-organized displays (10 percent).

In another key finding, significantly more than half (62 percent) of respondents said they expect to spend at least as much on holiday gifts this year as they did last year.

“With nearly two-thirds of consumers indicating that they’re willing to spend as much as last year, if not more, this holiday season, businesses can’t afford to economize on their operations,” said John Freeland, managing partner of Accenture’s Customer Relationship Management practice. “Retailers must meet or beat customer expectations with solid service; well-stocked shelves that make it easy for shoppers to find items on their gift lists; and other services, such as the promise of on-time delivery if items aren’t available in the store, to entice consumers to spend more holiday dollars with them.”

Additionally, the survey found that:

  • In-stock inventory is important. When respondents were asked what they would do if a store ran out of an item they wanted but the store could guarantee its delivery before the holidays, only 25 percent said they would still purchase the item from that store, compared with 39 percent who said they would go to another store to find the item. Only 13 percent said they would ask the store to call them when the item was back in stock and purchase it then.
  • Bricks are still more popular than clicks. More than three-quarters (79 percent) of respondents said they plan to shop in department stores, specialty stores and/or local retailers, while only 10 percent said they plan to shop online.
  • Loyalty programs don’t draw large numbers of shoppers. Only about one-third (32 percent) of respondents said loyalty programs would lead them to choose one retailer over another.

The survey, conducted by NOP Research for Accenture, entailed querying 800 U.S. consumers 18 + years of age by telephone in November 2004.

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 100,000 people in 48 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$13.67 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2004. Its home page is