By Linda Martin, Client Account Manager

An Industry Excelling

Over the past year, Irish supermarkets have faced the demands of providing superior customer service, whilst operating as an essential business through a pandemic. They have dealt with and overcome the significant challenges of delivery restrictions, panic buying and purchase limits, along with implementing new processes to make their customers feel safe in stores.

Now, as we see restrictions begin to ease, we asked consumers to tell us how they feel about their local supermarkets. During the month of May, we conducted a nationwide survey to gauge consumer attitudes towards the customer service in stores, shopping preferences, change in shopping habits over the last 12 months and their experience of online shopping solutions.

Where are Irish Consumers Shopping?

We asked our consumers where they complete their main grocery shopping and Aldi came back as a clear favourite, with 32% of the vote. This was closely followed by Lidl at 23% and Tesco at 20%. In fourth place were Dunnes Stores on 14% and Supervalu at 8%.

The majority of Irish consumers we surveyed reported that they are making frequent trips to their supermarket, with 51% going 2-3 times per week, while 32% go at least once per week… So what factors are important when choosing where to shop and why they should remain a loyal customer to the brand?

Price and value for money (92%) and product range (73%) were rated as the top factors that consumers consider when choosing a location. Consumers are also looking at the availability of special offers in store (57%) and the location of the premises (46%). 94% of Irish supermarkets are offering free parking to their customers, a factor which cannot be overlooked when consumers are considering where to shop. Loyalty cards also influence the decision on where to shop for some 24% of consumers.

With the range of choice, service, and value on offer, are retailers doing enough to keep their customers returning as loyal shoppers with the brand? 33% of consumers in our survey confirmed that they have switched retailers in the last 12 months, but why are they switching? “Money offer vouchers”, “shorter queues” and “better product variety” are just some of the most commonly cited reasons that encourage consumers to move away from their regular supermarkets. In addition, “click & collect charges” and “special offers” also play a key role in the decision.

E-Commerce

With the rise in e-commerce services being offered by Irish retailers, why do 86% of Irish consumers still prefer to shop in store as opposed to availing of delivery? According to our research, only 10% of customers regularly use their local supermarkets online delivery service and similarly, only 7% of customers are using Click and Collect. Up to 93% of customers say that they find the online systems clear and easy to navigate, yet their preference still remains to travel to the supermarket and complete their shopping in person. When asked why consumers are being discouraged from using their stores delivery service, the main response is that they prefer to pick the freshest products themselves in store. Alternative product options or substitutions being placed in the delivery, is another factor that comes into consideration.

89% of customers are aware of an additional charge for the delivery service and 36% were happy with the availability of delivery dates and times. With the increase in the number of retailers now offering Click & Collect services, how do consumers rate the availability of products and the collection process? 45% say that their main grocery store offers a collection service and 44% of customers have previously availed of the service. Of the customers that regularly use the service, 75% have easily located the designated parking spot at the store. We were keen to find out how consumers feel about Click & Collect services and while some say they are “very happy with the service” and “all items received are of good quality and in date”, others have had a different experience, commenting that there were damaged goods in their orders, or replacement items and short-dated stock included.

Covid Regulations

Over the past 12 months, retailers have worked tirelessly to adapt their services to ensure a safe shopping environment for their customers. We asked shoppers to weigh in on the Covid-19 precautions put in place in their regular supermarkets and more importantly do they feel safe while shopping in store. All supermarkets we researched have protective measures in place, such as sanitiser (97%), floor markings (89%), covid-19 signage (88%), Perspex screens (93%) and sanitising stations for trolleys (84%). Customers are observant of social distancing measures in place, with 86% agreeing that staff are respectful of guidelines and 72% feel that numbers are being monitored sufficiently instore. However, all factors considered, 91% of consumers say that they feel safe in their main regular grocery store.

This report outlines current sentiment among Irish consumers regarding supermarkets, their products, services, and solutions.

A total of 270 consumers were surveyed across Ireland.

Report published: May 2021