The retail landscape will get worse before it gets better. Consumers are less forgiving and more apt to punish a store for a disappointing experience than praise them for a good one. This means customer loyalty and store reputation becomes increasingly influential for retailers hoping to survive.
Now that Amazon gives consumers an alternative to shopping in-store, retailers are taking drastic measures to win over every customer they can. Reputation.com suggests that some stores are doing a better job pleasing customers than others. The reputation management platform assessed 400,000 consumer reviews based on in-store shopping experiences in its 2017 Retail Reputation Report.
When one store fails with longer lines and higher prices, another store wins with knowledgeable staff and pristine amenities. The shoppers have spoken, and these 15 stores own the best and worst customer reputation. (A classic toy store wins the top spot despite its struggling competitors (page 9).
The best retail stores of 2017
Whereas stores such as Home Depot, Toy R Us, and Old Navy lost favorability with shoppers, other retailers gained loyal fans. Customers loved that these seven stores were convenient, reasonably priced, and shopper friendly.
Next: Find out which stores shoppers can’t get enough of
- 4.23 out of 5 stars
This iconic shoe and athletic apparel brand faces an uncertain future due to changing industry trends and a saturated athleisure market. However, Nike must be doing something right because it receives impressive scores for its overall value, store cleanliness, and employee competence. Its international markets are seeing major success (China sales rose 9%), giving them a buffer against Americans who prefer e-commerce.
Next: This preppy retailer serves its shoppers well.
7. Ralph Lauren
- 4.27 out of 5 stars
Consumers are pretty harsh when it comes to manager ratings. Ralph Lauren didn’t get the highest ratings in the group, but it did receive fewer complaints overall. Shoppers also value the store’s employee competence and overall customer experience. Ralph Lauren has suffered store closings in recent years, but its commitment to service seems to be what is saving the chain from going under completely.
Next: Popular children’s store that’s doing something right
- 4.31 out of 5 stars
Carter’s is the first toy and baby store on this list to receive positive reviews from shoppers. It’s an impressive feat considering the highly demanding clientele typical of this market. It earned one of the highest ratings for product availability, shopping experience, and price and value — all factors that heavily influence its bottom line.
Next: High-end retailer that’s focusing on the customer
- 4.32 out of 5 stars
Shoppers rank Nordstrom as the fourth most loved retailer in this group. Knowledgeable staff are more than ready to point a customer in the right direction, as well as offer additional product options. So, it’s only fitting that customer reviews highlighted employee competence, store cleanliness, and amenities as the retailer’s greatest advantages.
Next: Everyone should shop this next store
4. Lululemon Athletica
- 4.38 out of 5 stars
Struggling retailers are racing to catch up with the trendy athleisure company Lululemon for years. They’ve built an incredibly loyal customer base that keeps returning to spend money. Inventory is updated frequently, giving shoppers a unique experience at every visit. Reviews also tout short wait lines and knowledgeable staff as Lululemon’s best customer perks.
Next: An athleisure company that even beats Lululemon.
3. Athleta (by Gap)
- 4.39 out of 5 stars
Gap, Inc. is failing to resonate with shoppers, but buying Athleta in 2008 gave the retailer more leverage in the market. Athleta has no problem pinpointing its brand identity, rivaling Amazon by catering aggressively toward female athletes. Shoppers rate Athleta better than Lululemon in price and product availability, but customers really appreciate the chain’s unrivaled in-store service.
Next: This store may be the “happiest place on earth.”
2. Disney Store
- 4.49 out of 5 stars
Few are surprised to learn Disney stores captured hearts of the American consumer with the second-best reputation rating. Attention to service, value, and competency enables Disney to remain immune to retail doom and score big-name deals with other large brands. Customers rarely leave a Disney store empty-handed according to Reputation.com. Disney also received top rankings for product availability and store convenience.
Next: This store provides the “building blocks” for kids to dream and play.
1. The LEGO Store
- 4.53 out of 5 stars
LEGO Stores led the entire retail pack, ranking at the top with 4.53 stars overall. In fact, consumers awarded LEGO with over four stars in eight out of nine categories: value, service, wait times, cleanliness, convenience, product availability, staff competence, and parking, facilities and amenities (which received a perfect 5.0).
LEGO proves that customers will return to a store that puts shoppers first. Its hold in the retail market is so strong, struggling retailer J.C. Penney entered into a partnership to put the LEGO brand in 875 JCP locations. Will the top-rated toy brand save J.C. Penney from failure? We will see.
Next: Shoppers have a love-hate relationship with this popular store.
The worst retail stores of 2017
Shoppers aren’t quick to forgive long lines, high prices, and incompetent staff. They’re also likely to shop elsewhere if the store is unclean and product availability is limited. These seven stores received the worst consumer reviews and thus, lost profits due to customer loyalty this year.
7. Old Navy
- 3.92 out of 5 stars
Old Navy is thriving amidst countless retailers’ bankruptcy claims and store closings. Its prices are lower than Gap or Banana Republic and customers appreciate the discount more than any other factor. Still, shoppers carry a love/hate relationship with the outfitter. Old Navy fails its clientele in employee-based metrics. Shoppers ask to see a store manager here more than other retailers and shun the long wait lines typical of the store.
Next: This toy retailer is the opposite of The LEGO Store in many ways.
6. Toys R Us
- 3.91 out of 5 stars
A Toys R Us demise has been a long time coming. The company filed for bankruptcy in September 2017 and has announced the closing of another 100 stores following weak holiday sales. Reputation’s report confirms the struggles, noting the toy store could do much better with wait times and manager assistance. Scores for low prices and product availability are just average — two things that need major attention if Toys R Us has any hopes of lasting much longer.
Next: “More saving, more doing” isn’t winning back shoppers’ hearts.
5. Home Depot
- 3.75 out of 5 stars
Customers hate that they need to make an extra effort to save money at Home Depot. And if they do find something they like, the wait time at the register is longer than necessary. Home Depot had one of the greatest shares of complaints about lengthy checkout lines according to the report. With an overall customer experience rating of 3.75, Home Depot has the fifth-worst retail reputation.
Next: Beauty store losing popularity
- 3.68 out of 5 stars
Shoppers praise the gift-buying experience at Sephora, but note that it comes at a steep price. The cosmetic store ranks lowest in the group for affordability. Add lengthy checkout lines, poor inventory management, and lack of good deals, and it’s easy to see why Sephora shoppers are aggravated.
Next: Another home improvement store isn’t doing any improving.
- 3.65 out of 5 stars
Aggravated customers have no qualms about writing scathing reviews when wait times exceed expectations. Home Depot’s biggest competitor, Lowe’s, also earned fewer stars than acceptable for checkout lines. The home improvement retailer’s biggest downfall: Shoppers need to see a store managers a lot. They only awarded 1.8 stars of out 5 for managers who can resolve customer issues. But perhaps most damaging, Lowe’s has a mediocre reputation for bargains.
Next: Another beauty store fails its shoppers.
- 3.65 out of 5 stars
Ulta shoppers seek a specialized experience. Unfortunately, the cosmetic boutique received countless dings for service from clients who have high expectations. Service, value, and product availability all scored a dismal 2.6 stars. Complaints regarding manager competence and long lines were also more frequent than desired, receiving a damaging 1.6 stars.
Next: A store with a serious issue, according to shoppers
1. Hugo Boss
- 3.63 out of 5 stars
Though it has the same overall rating as Ulta, Hugo Boss failed in one huge category: store locations. Customers don’t need additional obstacles preventing them from driving to a physical store, and the lack of available store locations is a major downfall for the high-end retailer. The chain also falls short for store cleanliness. But if you can manage to find a store and overlook clutter, consumers praised Hugo Boss employees with a perfect5.0 for competence.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.
Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!