Top Performing Brands Get It

According to Astound Commerce Insights, reported by Lauren Freedman, today’s consumers expect strong mobile sites, want flexible fulfillment options, and use a variety of channels to research and make purchases. Brands must deliver and support if they want to stay competitive in today’s retail environment.

The study evaluated the desktop, mobile, and in-store experiences of 50 global brand retailers in the 2017 Global Mystery Shopping Study, recently released.

The study measured the branding, customer experience and services delivered through 206 metrics across eight common shopping scenarios, including site browsing, product search, customer service access and queries, and visiting physical stores when available.

Based on these metrics, the top 10 performing brands for customer experience across channels are (in alphabetical order):


  • Apple
  • Nike
  • The North Face
  • Steve Madden
  • Toms
  • Tory Burch
  • Under Armour

Online Only:

  • Bobbi Brown
  • Lancome
  • Samsung

Lauren Freedman, SVP of Digital Strategy at Astound Commerce, notes that “… the world’s top brands have a strong mix of digital capabilities both online and in store and… lead with brand, embrace strategic merchandising, and offer convenience and simplicity at every touchpoint: the investment among brands in more sophisticated features… a direct response to shoppers… increasingly looking to brands to deliver more engaging experiences

To further support the mystery shopping findings, the study drew from its recently released 2017 Global Brand Consumer Insights Study, which surveyed 1000 consumers who shop online and have visited brand manufacturer websites in the past 6 months. These consumer statistics dovetail with the findings and reinforce the mystery shopping observations.

Online browsing and product search are fundamental to the digital purchase process and form the foundation of every digital shopper journey. In fact, says the report, 65% of consumers reported onsite search and navigation is “very important” in the shopping process. The mystery shopping report found that brands are raising the bar in a variety of ways:

  • Lancome, Keurig, and Steve Madden were the top three performers for the “browse the online site scenario”, offering winning combinations of homepage branding, merchandising, and free shipping to draw in consumers
  • Type ahead or autocomplete search options are now a feature on 76% of sites, while visual search is offered on half of sites surveyed, indicating that search is trending towards a more sophisticated experience beyond simple keyword capability

With one in three shoppers finding sizing, product finders and customer tools very important, global brands are making choices in the tactics they use to merchandise the shopping experience, says the report:

  • Video deployment is aggressive: 48% of respondents are positioning it at the category level with product configurators, enabling customized product and interactive tools/profilers on one in four sites to guide decision-making

For brands today, says the report, offering a full set of customer service options, including prompt responses to questions and requests, is a necessity. 40% of online shoppers expect expert service from brands online. Mystery shopping customer service findings include:

  • Less than a third of brands surveyed had searchable FAQs, making it difficult to quickly find answers for the majority of these companies without getting directly in touch
  • 40% of brands offer live chat, and just 14% offer customer service on Twitter. It takes an average of 9.25 minutes for a live chat response, and 59 minutes for a Twitter response

While many in the retail industry have predicted the demise of physical stores, the study found that successful global brands are evolving their stores to ensure they still play a large role in the shopping experience. With 59% of consumers reporting the brand experience is better accomplished in the physical store, brands are investing in technology to facilitate deeper consumer engagement. Notable findings on the in-store shopping experience include:

  • In-store tech adoption is increasing: 40% of brands provided tablets or digital screens in store
  • Advanced inventory transparency is a reality for top brands: 83% of brands could find inventory across channels and place an order, but 17% still had to pick up the phone and call a store to confirm inventory or place an order

For additional information about the study, please visit here.



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