A survey of more than 10,000 New Zealanders has revealed New Zealand’s best and worst retailers. Subscribers and online members of consumer advocacy publication Consumer NZ were asked to rate how likely they’d be to recommend each store to others.
The 45 retailers mentioned in the survey were grouped into four categories: furniture and bedding; hardware, DIY and automotive; home appliances and technology; and carpet and flooring. The first two categories had the highest rate of average customer satisfaction, each boasting 91 percent. Home appliances and technology came in second at 89 percent, and carpet and flooring scored an overall 87 percent.
South Island-based McKenzie and Willis was the furniture and bedding store most likely to be recommended by customers, scoring highly on point-of-sale service but below average on price.
Bedpost and Beds R Us were the only retailers in this category to score above average for service at both point of sale and after sale. Farmers took a different tack, rating well on price and overall satisfaction, while Briscoes’ customers rated it better than average for range and price but were more likely to be unsatisfied with its point-of-sale service.
The furniture stores least likely to be recommended were Early Settler, Freedom Furniture and Nood. One respondent described Nood as “A place you should only shop on sale – products are overpriced for their quality.”
Of the hardware, DIY and automotive retailers, Hammer Hardware came out on top as most likely to be recommended. Mitre 10 was the only retailer to rate above average for range, point-of-sale service and overall satisfaction. A commenter reviewed Mitre 10 as: “A little pricey at times, but very conveniently close to home so we tend to go there anyway because we know they have the range, quality and service.”
Poor performers in this category were The Warehouse and Placemakers.
Among home appliance and technology retailers, 100% Appliances, etailer Mighty Ape and Heathcote Appliances rated the best. 100% Appliances and Heathcote Appliances also did well on point-of-sale and after-sale service.
Customers of online retailer Mighty Ape particularly liked its delivery speed and ordering process. “Very good to buy from online,” said a respondent. “Swift delivery and instant emails regarding my purchase and delivery date.”
Big-box competitors such as JB HiFi, Noel Leeming and Harvey Norman did not come out looking so good. Less than half of their customers would recommend them to others. Dick Smith was the only retailer rated below average on every measure, and had the lowest number of customers willing to recommend it to others.
Retailers in the carpet and flooring category scored fairly uniformly, although The Tile Depot came out on top as most recommended. More than 20 percent of purchases were made at Carpet Court’s 57 stores but it scored lower than average for price and its customers were less satisfied overall.
The survey also revealed that customers preferred to make purchases of over $100 in person. Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin says consumers may still be “a bit nervous” about making big financial commitments online, particularly those buying DIY equipment, but notes that shoppers seem happy to make an exception when it comes to buying expensive technology online. These differences could be linked to the type of consumer, says Chetwin, but she also wonders if some services are not up to scratch online.
“I accept that some of the big retailers [may have received more complaints] because they are so big that there’s more capacity for complaints.”
Referring to the broader survey, Chetwin wondered whether customer service is not being prioritised by big-box retailers: “If there’s a heavy discount, what goes is customer service.”