America's Most Hated Retailer

Walmart recently announced its earnings. Though they were relatively strong, the retail giant said this year would be challenging. Total revenue rose 7.3% to $160 million, and U.S. same-store sales rose 8.3%. The numbers made it clear that Walmart remains the largest company in the world. Another study, released the same day, shows Walmart is also America’s most hated retailer. (Click here to see the biggest grocery store chains in North America.)

As it presses toward strong customer relationships, as almost all consumer-facing companies do, Walmart has to control the activities of over a million people spread across more than 4,000 stores. If its target is customer service excellence, that is a massive network to manage.

For its “Retail and Consumer Shipping Study 2022-2023,” American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) interviewed 35,685 customers, picked and contacted via email, between January and December of 2022. Major benchmarks were store hours, cleanliness of stores, product availability, location of stores and website convenience. It did not show which of these things hurt the Walmart score.

In the general merchandise category, Walmart was in last place, scoring 70. The average rating was 75. Costco’s score of 82 put it in the lead.

The score Costco received must be hard for Walmart’s management to swallow. Costco is another big-box retailer. It charges membership fees, which means access to its stores is not free. Walmart charges nothing, which should help customer satisfaction. Both retailers are known for low prices. Why does Costco do so much better? The research does not say.

One major problem with the ACSI data is that it gives retailers no direction by not offering details that back the study results. All Walmart knows is that it has a severe customer satisfaction problem that places it at the bottom of a vast industry.

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