Calculating the ‘Wow’ Shopping Experience
By Tom Ryan
A new Wharton survey
found that 35 percent of shoppers have had a "Wow" experience
recently. But it also revealed that as many as 10 different elements have
to occur simultaneously to make one happen and it’s a bigger challenge
for larger chains.
The online survey of
1,006 shoppers in the U.S and Canada asked: "Can you think of a shopping
experience that you had in the past six months or so that was especially
great, in that the experience created delight and surprise for you in any
The report, titled "Discovering
‘WOW’ — A Study of Great Retail Shopping Experiences in North America," pointed
to five underlying areas that contributed to a great shopping experience:
- Engagement: being polite, genuinely caring and interested
in helping, acknowledging and listening.
- Executional Excellence: patiently
explaining and advising, checking stock, helping to find products, having
product knowledge and providing unexpected product quality.
- Brand Experience: exciting
store design and atmosphere, consistently great product quality, making
customers feel they’re special and that they always get a deal.
- Expediting: being sensitive to customers’ time on long
check-out lines, being proactive in helping speed the shopping process.
- Problem Recovery: helping
resolve and compensate for problems, upgrading quality and ensuring complete
The researcher found
that retailers can focus on creating a "bedrock," or
platform, based on the five major pillars of retail satisfaction to increase
the probability of creating a
In all, however, respondents
mentioned 28 distinct elements for creating a great experience, such as
salespeople who "immediately acknowledged you" or "could easily
explain a product to you" or
"seemed genuine." As much as ten needed to occur
simultaneously to make a "Wow" experience.
are pretty high. It’s easy to [fall short of those expectations], and hard
to eclipse [bad experiences, even] with something that’s over-the-top," Wharton
marketing professor Stephen Hoch told Knowledge@Wharton.
"Bitching and moaning is more common than praise."
The report also found
that creating a "Wow"
experience is tougher for larger chains than smaller chains because many
stores tend to look the same and even offer a similar shopping experience.
"Most chains are
cookie-cutter," said Prof. Hoch.
"Even if the stores themselves are different from each other, the same
store is in every mall. It’s probably a lot easier for a small merchant to
provide this brand experience. Unfortunately, if people see the same look
over and over again, they find it mundane."
Discussion Question: Do you think larger stores have a chance to create
a "Wow" experience? What do
you think are some critical elements underlying an extraordinary shopping