Customers more satisfied with retail and info-communications sectors: SMU study

SINGAPORE - Customers have grown more satisfied with the retail and info-communications sector over the past year.

This was the finding of a three-month study, released on Tuesday (July 15), by the Singapore Management University's Institute of Service Excellence (Ises), which compiled the Customer Satisfaction index for the retail and info-communications sectors.

The retail sector produced a score of 71.7 out of 100, up from 70 in 2015. Improvements came primarily from fashion, jewellery and department stores. Bossini, Uniqlo and Hang Ten were the top three performers among fashion stores, while DFS, Takashimaya and John Little claimed the top spots among department stores.

Among supermarkets, only Sheng Siong scored a significantly higher score from a year ago, an outcome that the study attributed to the chain's expansion of existing stores and addition of new stores in the past two years.

The roll out of self-checkout machines at supermarkets has "complemented cashiers in facilitating a smooth payment process" and did not adversely affect customer satisfaction, said Mr Chen Yongchang, head of research and consulting at Ises.

Among e-commerce firms - this sub sector was added to the annual study for the first time to account for changing consumption patterns - Zalora ranked first, following by Taobao/Tmall and Groupon.

The study also found that, at online stores, the tail-end of the customer journey had the most impact on customer satisfaction,such as the timely delivery of products and the ease of checking out items and payment on site.

In contrast, at traditional retailers, the front end - availability of products, the types of promotions offered and the courtesy of staff - mattered more.

Another observation was that consumers tend to visit online stores more often and spend more there, despite perceiving these stores as having lower value and quality than brick-and-mortar stores.

The score of the info-communications sector rose from 67.4 to 68.5, driven by higher satisfaction with broadband and Wireless@SG services here.

Telco M1 claimed the top spot for the broadband sub sector with 67.5 points, followed by StarHub (67.0 points) and SingTel (66.9 points).

Mr Chen noted that the recent successful implementation and take up of free wifi services at 33 Mrt stations could have led to the sharp increase in the score for Wireless@SG from 59.6 to 69.6.

The study, which involved face-to-face interviews, polled 9,489 people between January and April2016. Of these, 8,584 were Singapore residents interviewed in their homes and 905 were tourists at Changi Airport.