5 Grocers With the Best Store Experience

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5 Grocers With the Best Store Experience

By Tim Denman - 04/12/2019

As the grocery segment continues to face pressure for online competition, traditional brick-and-mortar locations have been forced to up their game, investing heavily in the in-store experience to attract and retain customers.

To uncover which grocers provide the most engaging in-store shopping experience CB4 surveyed 1,500 U.S. grocery shoppers about their experiences shopping in their local stores over the previous six months.

The purpose of the research was to better understand the customer experience issues facing major supermarket chains. One of CB4’s most surprising discoveries was the willingness of shoppers to extend their shopping trip to a competitor’s store if items on their list are out of stock or not carried in their current location.

The study ranked the nation’s leading grocers in three categories: Product purchase ability, the percentage of customers who indicated that they were always able to purchase what they were shopping for in the previous six months. Ease of experience, how difficult it is to find what they’re looking for while shopping in their local store on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being very difficult. And overall in-store experience, how shoppers rate their experience in their local store over the last six months.

Category Results

Purchase Ability Ranking
  1. H-E-B 52%
  2. Trader Joe’s 47%
  3. Aldi 44%
  4. Publix 42%
  5. Walmart Neighborhood Markets 41%
Ease of Experience
  1. Walmart Neighborhood Markets 3.84
  2. Publix 3.78
  3. Kroger 3.62
  4. Trader Joe’s 3.59
  5. H-E-B 3.56
Overall In-Store Experience
  1. Trader Joe’s 4.32
  2. Publix 4.24
  3. Kroger 4.05
  4. Aldi 3.87
  5. H-E-B 3.90

The results of each category were added together to discover the grocers’ overall composite score. On the right is the full top 10 list, below is an in-depth look at the performance of the top 5 overall finishers.

Overall Composite Score Ranking

  1. Trader Joe’s 68.47
  2. Publix 67.75
  3. H-E-B 67.08
  4. Walmart Neighborhood Markets 65.10
  5. Aldi 64.12
  6. Food Lion 58.48
  7. Safeway 58.24
  8. Whole Foods 56.64
  9. Albertson’s 55.16
  10. Kroger 46.60

Trader Joe’s. The healthy and organic grocer finished in first place thanks to stellar rankings in all three metrics. Trader Joe’s finished in first place in the important overall experience ranking with a 4.32 out of a possible 5; finished in second place in purchase ability with 47% of shoppers saying they always find what they are looking for; and fourth for ease of experience with a 3.59 out of 5 score.

Publix. The employee-owned, supermarket chain finished in second place in two of the three metrics and fourth place in another. Publix scored a 4.24 in overall experience and 2.78 in the ease of experience metrics. In the purchase ability metric Publix tallied a 47% score, meaning that more than half of its customers left their local store and traveled to a competitor due to product unavailability. Of those that left the store without purchasing 41% report it was because the product they wanted to purchase was out of stock.   

H-E-B. The grocer finished in first place in the vital purchase ability metric, with 52% of its shoppers reporting that they were always able to find that they needed in store. Of those that did leave, 34% did so because H-E-B didn’t carry what they wanted and 27% couldn’t find the product they desired. In the other two metrics the retailer finished in fifth place with a 3.56 ease of experience score and a 3.9 overall experience ranking.

Walmart Neighborhood Markets. Walmart’s small format offering scored a 3.84 out of 5 in the ease of experience metric, which was good for first place in the category. The grocer’s dominance in the category isn’t surprising considering the entire concept is built around the idea of shopper convenience. The small format of the stores does have a drawback in inventory availability, with just 41% of shoppers saying they haven’t left the store without making a purchase in the past six months. Of those who left a store without purchasing what they came for, 37% said it was because the item was out of stock and 30% said it was because the store didn’t carry what they were looking for.  

Aldi. The discount grocer finished in fifth place overall, fueled by a 44% purchase ability score, which was good for third place in the category. Of those that left the store without purchasing what they had come for, 45% did so because it was out of stock and 19% did so because they simply could not find the product. When customers were disappointed in Aldi’s available inventory 39% went to a competitor’s store, 32% bought the most similar product, and 14% tried another location in the chain.