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Retail Innovation|June 13, 2022

Improve the Store Experience Category by Category WSL Has an Index to Help!

WSL recently asked thousands of shoppers what they value most in a brick-store shopping trip and what makes a good shopping experience. The answers, we learned, vary by category. So we measured how well various retailers deliver what shoppers want, by category, and reported the results in our Retailer Performance Index. Here’s how we do it, and what it can do for retailers and brands.

In-Store Category Experiences Improve Retailer Loyalty

In one of our most popular How America Shops® reports, “Shoppers Reveal Many Paths to Purchase,” 60% of shoppers told us they do not visit a regular store to buy a category – anyplace they happen to be will do. Why? Because retailers present categories with little differentiation. To maintain efficient operations, brands are lined up on shelves and priced, but little attention is paid to the emotional benefits shoppers expect from a category.

What Can Be Measured Can be Managed

Retail shopping experience trends are presenting fresh opportunities for each in-store category to contribute to making one retailer a shopper’s destination. But to be a destination, retailers and brands need to understand what shoppers want a category to be. Because what they want is more than a lineup of items on a shelf.

We surveyed 1,500 shoppers to rank the importance of dozens of the practical factors (such as price and assortment), then took it further to define the experiential factors. We did this across 20 categories from skincare to sparkling water to over-the-counter medications among 10 retailers. The results make up WSL’s Retailer Performance Index.

The Index scores what is most important to shoppers when buying a specific category vs. how each retailer delivers on those expectations. Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, most retailers have lots of room for improvement, and for individualization.

The Future of the Retail Shopping Experience is in the Gaps

Within that gap between how shoppers want to experience a category and how they actually do experience it in the store, exists the opportunity for a retailer to make its chain a destination for a particular category. And for the brands in that category to partner in the process.

The results of our first Retailer Performance Index are available in our most recent How America Shops® report, “The Role of the Store in Retail 5.0.”

We developed the Retailer Performance Index because shoppers have made it clear that retailers and brands need to reinvent the shopping experience at the store, and the experience in the store begins at the category level.

Use WSL’s Retailer Performance Index to support brand goals in ways that will distinguish the category.

Shoppers are Redefining the Best Retail Shopping Experience

What it takes to improve the store experience for shoppers changes with time, and the shopper sets that timing. While it can be prohibitively costly for a major retailer to reformat all of its stores in short order, it can tackle change – category by category.

For a demonstration of the Retailer Performance Index contact Joi Pratt at

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