By Mario Toneguzzi
The WOW Index assessed the customer shopping experience of 151 Ontario retailers in an online survey of more than 20,000 respondents.
“We’re very pleased to be able to win that award. It’s always nice to be recognized. This one’s especially nice because it’s the customers voting. We’re in a field of very strong retailers and it’s gratifying to come out on top of that list for sure,” says
Andy McNevin, chief operating officer of Lush, which opened its first store in 1996 in Vancouver.
“If you look at Lush and the cornerstones of the brand, innovation is a big one. Each time you come into a Lush store you should see something new. We’re generally introducing 250 or 300 new products or gifts a year and we only have 500 skews in the store. So lots of innovation.”
(Click image below for full list, via Excel spreadsheet)
“I think we provide really genuine customer service. So sort of an in-store spectacle. You get lots of sound, and energy, colour and smell just trying to create a sensory playground.”
Other keys to the brand’s success, explains McNevin, are fresh, handmade products in a sort of farmers’ market set up. Everything it sells is made in Canada, using fresh fruits and vegetables, the highest quality essential oils and 100 per cent vegetarian raw materials.
He says the company was founded on ethics and is an activist in campaigning on several issues including animal advocacy, environmental protection and humanitarian causes.
Rounding out the top 10 Ontario retailers in the WOW Index after Lush are: Penningtons, Kiehl’s, David’s Tea, Addition Elle, Bath & Body Works, Aveda, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Carter’s Oshkosh and Yves Rocher.
Christian Bourque, Executive VP and Partner at Leger, says the WOW Index was started seven years ago in Quebec and was introduced into Ontario the following year.
The weighted index has 16 variables and retailers can see how they rate and compare to their competitors in a number of retail sectors.
“Out of the 16 variables that we measure, the one that is most important in terms of driving the model is ‘this store was designed with somebody like me in mind’,” says Bourque. “We call it the Penningtons variable. I feel it’s very important regardless of who you are. If you’re not in tune to the needs of your customers walking into the store, you’ll basically die.”
“In the case of Penningtons, they’ve brought this to a level that I think is scholarly almost.”
He says key variables in the index include store layout, ambiance and the physical store itself, customer service, product offering, price competitiveness and innovation.
Each retailer was assessed by 400 recent customers, 15 years of age or older. Data collection took place from mid-September to mid-October. Data is weighted to ensure a representative selection of recent customers for each retailer (gender, age and region).
The Index also found that 49 per cent of customers who have a mobile phone or tablet have used a retailer’s mobile app in the past year – 21 per cent for grocery; 16 per cent for apparel; nine per cent each for music, pharmacy and footwear.
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: email@example.com.