H-E-B leads other food retailers in customer satisfaction during the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a new report.
The grocery store chain achieved an 80% customer satisfaction mark in the newest Bond Brand Loyalty "Covid-19 Consumer Tracker" study. H-E-B scored higher than such other food retailers as Costco and Walmart, each of them scoring 61%. Publix and The Kroger Co. were behind them, with scores of 59% each.
During the ongoing outbreak, convenience and pandemic protection efforts have gone a long way toward boosting customer satisfaction with food retail operations, as the Bond Brand Loyalty study demonstrated. For instance, the new tracking report, which also looked at convenience stores and pharmacy operations, found that the most important feature for shoppers during the pandemic is having products available at store locations nearest consumers. That feature was cited by 87% of consumers, according to the study.
Also, 85% of consumers placed top importance on those retail operations having hand sanitizer or even handwashing stations. Beyond that, 84% said that making things easier for vulnerable consumers was important during the ongoing pandemic, as were encouraging social distancing (83%) and limiting the sale of certain items (81%).
By contract, consumers were relatively uninterested in shops setting up programs to take appointments for shopping at specific times (42%) and offering delivery (49%). Loyalty, too, seems to have taken a back seat for now, with just 45% of consumers saying that such programs are important during this time.
The importance of loyalty programs promises to rebound along with consumer confidence, the study found. Further, delivery in the realm of food retail has indeed gained a higher profile during the COVID-19 outbreak, at least according to other recent research.
For instance, the Bi-Lo grocery chain, part of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Southeastern Grocers Inc., recently expanded its delivery options via Instacart. Not only that, but the outbreak and its stay-at-home mandates have significantly boosted the online and mobile profile of grocery delivery services. Those services achieved a more than 28,000% increase in social media engagement over a two-month time frame (March-May 1) from the previous two months, according to a report from international social media analytics firm Talkwalker.
With 400 stores in Texas and Mexico, San Antonio-based H-E-B is No. 17 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's list of the top food retailers in North America. Jacksonville, Fla.-based Southeastern Grocers, operating more than 550 stores and employing some 45,000 workers, is No. 34 on The PG 100.