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Big box stores changing strategy to earn customer satisfaction and loyalty

Big Box stores have been known for low prices and convenience, but less often for their customer service. A recent study by Empathica revealed competitive pricing may not be enough to earn customers' loyalty, given competitors are consistently offering similar deals.

Consumers have started to value personalized service more than low price points since ecommerce emerged. Online shopping sites can use customer analytics to offer tailored suggestions based on shoppers' previous purchases. Many consumers are now willing to pay more to have personalized experiences that were once commonplace in small independently-owned shops, and retailers are racing to develop appropriate strategies.

Yet, it appears shoppers aren't finding it in national big box chains, Empathica's survey found. Two out of five shoppers said they did have a personalized experience when shopping in the stores and one out of five said their experiences varied when they visited more than one location owned by a single brand.

"Even if you have a great experience in one store, you can't trust the brand to deliver in others. This inconsistency erodes brands equity. Retailers that can consistently manage the customer experience will drive regular consumer habits, which in turn will drive sales,"  Dr. Gary Edwards, chief customer officer of Empathica.

Companies that make personalization a core value are likely to survive, gain an edge on the competition and become highly successful, according to Tech Crunch.

"Big box retailers must create an environment where consumers are confident their needs will be met at each and every visit no matter the location," Edwards added.

To do just that, many large corporations are taking on remodeling projects to provide customers with better in-store experiences, according to BusinessWeek. Some stores are investing in retail technology that mirrors the kind of experiences customers have when they shop online, while others are updating stores with additional seating areas and lighting that will create a more enjoyable experience.

"People are understanding that you've got to entice the customer with the experience, and the experience is a whole lot of things," CEO of Express Michael Weiss told the news agency.

Another strategy is to downsize, reports Womens Wear Daily. Big box retailers are turning their business model upside down by building smaller, urban locations. This new design would force the brands to focus more on quality than quantity, maximizing the smaller space by displaying merchandise tailored to the preferences of different customer demographics. A scaled-back store might also foster increased interaction between shoppers and sales representatives.