When it comes to pleasing customers, Costco does a better job than any other major retailer in the country.
At least that is the conclusion from an extensive survey conducted by Consumer Reports.
"People like a lot of things about Costco,” says senior editor Mandy Walker. "They were extremely happy with the quality of the things they bought there and the price they paid.”
The Consumer Reports National Research Center surveyed more than 26,000 subscribers about their shopping experiences at 10 of America’s major chains: Costco, JCPenney, Kmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Meijer, Sam’s Club, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart. They rated the stores and their websites on quality, selection, value, customer service and checkout.
The just-released report shows the biggest complaints about walk-in stores were slow checkout, poor service and items that were out-of-stock. It turns out that in many cases, customers were as happy or happier shopping at the retailer’s website. After all, online you don’t have to wait in line for checkout.
Costco was the only one of the 10 chains to get an outstanding grade for the quality of the merchandise at both its brick-and-mortar stores and website. It earned above-average scores for all 10 product categories rated, including jewelry, sporting goods and entertainment. The Costco website received high marks for both value and ease of navigation.
But Costco wasn’t perfect. The brick-and-mortar stores rated below average for selection and service. Customers were also unhappy with the long lines at checkout.
Other highlights from the Consumer Reports’ survey:
- Macy’s rated better than average for product quality. It got high marks for its kitchenware and personal-care products.
- Kohl’s and JCPenney had above-average scores for the quality of their merchandise in all categories where there were sufficient responses.
- Sears, Costco and Sam’s Club were picked as the best places to buy hardware.
- Target’s in-store shopping experience was rated average and its website was judged not especially easy to use.
- Wal-Mart and Kmart scored much lower than other retailers. Kmart was the only chain to score below average for value. It also received low marks for selection, service and checkout.
- Wal-Mart may boast low prices, but respondents told Consumer Reports they got better value at Costco and Kohl’s.
- Nearly a quarter of Wal-Mart shoppers (23 percent) who returned an item to a store the previous year said they had a problem. That is significantly more than any of the other retailers. Consumer Reports says the common complaint was that they were only offered a store credit.