Survey Responses and Ideas

Well, first I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to fill out our 2012 Christmas Survey. We had 99 responses! I wrote a post recently about why we did this, and now I can share with you some of the insights we gained. Why share? This isn’t proprietary information in any way, it’s anonymous, and I’m making educated guesses from the responses. I’d love to hear comments and other ideas from our customers! (always!) You are the reason we are here, and it’s your needs we need to fullfill.

Some questions didn’t yield useful information; next year I’ll play with them (yes, I’d like to do this on an annual basis to touch base with our customers). There weren’t any big surprises either, which means that we listen! Now we just have to action each of them. I’d like to list what my plans are for each topic, and then at the end of 2013 I’d like to be able to show how much we’ve done. Feel free to call me on any I’ve missed! Here we go…

How often do you eat at home?

Nothing ground breaking here, although more people cook from scratch than I would have thought. Over 90% of respondants usually cook from scratch. Action: Maintain stock of useful tools! We need to avoid selling out of the basics.

How many people do you normally cook for?

Fewer than 10% cooked only for themselves, but the rest were split evenly between just for 2 and 3 or more. I may add in a 5+ category next year to see how many are cooking for larger groups. Action: We don’t need to worry too much about solo cooking tools, but highlighting tools useful for 2 would be useful to our customers.

How often do you entertain at home?

This was interesting. A little over half the respondents said rarely, the rest being split between occasionally and frequently (more than once a month). Based on our conversations with our customers, it seems that formal entertaining is definitely dropping in popularity. Action: Look for informal entertaining equipment; for example, hot pot carriers for bringing dishes to potlucks. We will likely start reducing our entertaining section (it has traditionally been a large part of the store).

Customer Service

It’s good to see that you enjoy our company!

As in all customer service situations, you can’t please everyone, but it sure looks like we’re pretty close. One of our minor weaknesses is our special order process.Action:Schedule orders with our minor suppliers on an annual calendar so that customers can know when to expect their item.

Store and Merchandise Quality

It’s also nice to see that our customers appreciate the quality of merchandise we bring into the store. We often get told that we have a beautiful store with great products, but I wanted to explore this a little.

It does seem that there are a number of people that find our prices a little high (there was even a Stoke List post this fall commenting on one of our higher end shower curtains). We understand that some of our products are outside the price range of a lot of people, but those that have the disposable income and are looking for a certain brand or level of quality tend to comment that we are cheaper than in the big cities. Action: Don’t worry about a renovation for the time being. Keep searching for quality products at reasonable prices. Consolidate the purchasing process to keep shipping costs and therefore prices affordable.

Cooking Interests

We have some skilled cooks and bakers in town, it looks like!

Some other topics mentioned were vegan/vegetarian cooking, non-toxic bakeware, and indian foods. It also looks like all of my ideas on how we can help would be appreciated. almost half of the respondants said it was important that we carry the basic and advanced tools for these projects, with a whopping 61% saying that we should offer instructions with a starter kit. This is great to see, since that is one of the projects that I want to work on in 2013. Classes or seminars were also popular, with 57% saying they’d appreciate it. Next challenge: how to work the scheduling so we’d have a great turnout?  Action: Start putting together kits with instructions and organizing more classes. Organize merchandise by what is it used for to make it easier to find.

Merchandise Categories

The final topic I wanted to address with the survey was which of our categories were appreciated, and which ones were no longer very important. Here again, no big surprises. Bed, bath, storage/cleanup and coffee/tea were all under 20%. This doesn’t mean we’ll stop carrying top quality towels, but I think we’ll start shrinking these categories to the top selling necessities to make room for other, more useful sections. With the apparent popularity of candy making, it looks like we’ll be expanding that section from Wilton!

I’ve already started to work on a new floor plan for the store in order to show off our sections more effectively. Check out the changes throughout January and add your input to what we should be looking for at the trade show. Look for new stock to start arriving in February and througout the spring.

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