Magazines Archives - 2008 March
Retail executives set new benchmarks in priorities for the year ahead
IMPROVING customer satisfaction is US retailers top goal for 2008. That was according to one of the findings of the sixth annual survey Retail Horizons: Benchmarks for 2007, Forecasts for 2008, jointly conducted by NRF and IBM.
The survey took place in the fall of 2007, before the economic downturn was apparent. Other changes expected include declining attention on expansion, which has been retailers chief objective for several years. Behind customer satisfaction and retention issues, cost reduction and containment took the number two spot in overall strategic initiatives.
Tied for second place in priorities was domestic expansion. Employee retention and development moved up to third place from the fifth.
The survey polled 418 executives at 137 companies on how they would evaluate the success of their 2007 initiatives and their priorities for 2008. Among goals set for the year ahead are driving sales and increasing market share while controlling costs. Customerinsight executives were reported to be looking to emphasise customer-loyalty programmes, with IT executives planning to concentrate more on merchandise/ inventory-management system upgrades and replacements.
Costs seem to be on everyones mind this year. Executives with supply-chain responsibilities plan to make reducing and containing costs their primary goal for 2008, replacing last years warehouse and distribution-network optimisation. Human-resource executives, too, are focusing on cost control, citing concerns over health-care costs and benefits as their second-highest priority next to leadership assessment, development and succession planning.
The foremost goals of those with merchandising responsibilities are driving comparable-store sales, and improving margins and inventory turnover. As for marketing executives, increasing market share comes first, followed by a growing share of the customer wallet.
Retailers this year will be balancing fiscal priorities (cost reduction and control) with growth and moderate expansion initiatives, the study concluded.