The SNEWS View: Is your store one of the best stores to shop for practically anything?

How does your store stack up against the stores 30,000 Consumer Reports readers deemed to be “the best places to shop for practically anything?” SNEWS presents ideas that you can use to ensure your store stands out for the right reasons by looking at what customers did not like during their shopping experiences for the Consumer Reports story.

On June 1, Consumer Reports released the results of a consumer survey on retailers that is published in its July 2010 magazine in an article titled, “America’s top stores: 30,000 readers reveal the best places to shop for practically anything.” 

While it would be a foolish game to think any specialty retailer can or should compete with the winners on this list in terms of price or even selection (Costco, Dillards, Kohl’s, JCPenny, Target, Sam’s Club, Sears, Macy’s, Meijer, Walmart and Kmart — listed in order of ranking in the survey), there is much to learn from the survey in relation to what consumers said they did NOT like. In summary:

Each one of the complaints above is an opportunity for a specialty store to outshine big-box competitors, and, quite likely, earn lasting loyalty and attention from customers who value their time and the way they are treated more than discounts and deep selection. Let’s take just two examples: checkout lines and service.

Lines at a checkout counter happen. But they do not have to be a bottleneck or a source of customer frustration.

Service is where a specialty store should excel. How special is your store in your customers’ eyes? Do you think new customers will find you special? There are ways to ensure your customers — both the ones you have now and the ones you will earn — understand you really are the best store to buy practically anything.

–Michael Hodgson