Ace Hardware and True Value satisfy customers, Home Depot not so much
When it comes to satisfied customers, no two home improvement retailers do it better than Ace Hardware and True Value, according to the 2019 Home Improvement Retailer Satisfaction Study from J.D. Power.
Ace and True Value, with scores of 840 on a scale of 1,000, were co-ranked in first place, followed by Lowe’s (834), Menards (833) and Home Depot (823).
The rankings were based on customer satisfaction across five areas: merchandise, price, sales and promotions, staff and service, and store facility. A total of 2,433 customers who had made a purchase from a home improvement retailer between January 2018 and February 2019 took part in the research.
One of the key findings of J.D. Power’s research is that 41 percent of customers research or shop online before going to a home improvement store to make a purchase. This group of consumers also spend more ($620 annually) in home improvement stores than individuals who do not go online to conduct research before making a purchase.
While online sites are a popular destination for home improvement store customers, overall satisfaction with these sites is lower (821 on a scale of 1,000) than manufacturer sites (823), image or video sharing sites (832) and social media (869).
Amazon.com and other e-tailers also pose a threat to retailers whose business foundations have been built on physical stores.
“Online retailers do introduce new competition, but when traditional retailers get their online/offline formula right, they are able to really differentiate by offering a level of personalized knowledge and expertise that cannot be replicated in an online-only environment,” said Christina Cooley, At Home Intelligence Lead at J.D. Power.
Ultimately, home improvement customers are looking for help when they enter a store. J.D. Power’s research found that two minutes is the maximum amount of time that customers expect to wait before receiving help. Those stores where an associate began helping a customer within that window saw a 67-point improvement in their overall satisfaction stores. Only 26 percent of customers, however, reported receiving assistance within two minutes.
Speed is great, but a key differentiator is knowledgeable associates. Ace and True Value stood well above the competition in this respect, according to J.D. Power’s findings. Ace has ranked at the top for customer satisfaction for 12 of the past 13 years. True Value, which matched Ace this year, is the only other home improvement banner to have earned the distinction.
“We are humbled to receive this award which reflects our Ace owners’ passion for their neighbors and the outstanding service they and their red-vested heroes seek to provide every customer, every time,” said John Venhuizen, president and CEO of Ace Hardware Corporation, in a statement.
In an email to RetailWire, True Value CEO John Hartmann said the wholesaler is investing in its independent partners, including “returning over $250 million of equity” to retailers to put back into their businesses. “Clearly their investments are paying off,” he said.
- Online Home Improvement Research Drives Sales at Brick-and-Mortar Retailers, J.D. Power Finds – J.D. Power
- Ace Hardware Ranks Highest In Customer Satisfaction By J.D. Power – Ace Hardware/PRNewswire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What factors do you think are most critical in satisfying customers in home improvement retail today? What legacy retailers are doing the best job when it comes to adapting to changing consumer behavior — specifically, going online to research home improvement purchases before shopping in a store?