We Shop Differently. In Katy, Texas, there is a women’s clothing store named Mimosa Rose. Prominently displayed in this shop is a sign that says, “If shopping doesn’t make you happy, you’re in the wrong shop.” You would never find that sign in a store frequented mostly by men.
The differences in how men and women shoppers behave in the retail environment are well documented in “Men Buy, Women Shop”, a study completed by the Wharton Retail Initiative. In spite of these differences, there is much more congruence in what consumers dislike most about shopping than in what they like.
Remove The Most Immediate Deterrents
Here are some of the most annoying things about shopping – whether your customer is shopping or just buying:
- Parking. Difficulty finding a parking space when you get there, and then again having a challenge finding your car when you’re ready to leave. Those acres and acres of parking lots don’t seem to make it any easier to find a spot or your car. And if you only need to “run in for a moment”, it is especially discouraging. One pet supply retailer solved this by keeping a record of loyal customers’ food purchases and then delivering it directly to their car when they received a text from the customer that they were waiting outside the store. Customers did not need to leave their cars.
- Too much or too little attention from store associates. Customers don’t want to be hounded by a sales associate who follows their every move, but at the same time, they don’t want to have to hunt down the sales associate when they need assistance. In addition to this annoyance, sales associates also come under fire here:
- Sales associates who talk too much and listen too little.
- Sales associates who don’t know their products: fully 73% of customers believe they know more about the product than the sales associate, and they are not happy about that. (Source: Internet Retailer)
- Waiting – for anything. Waiting for help from the sales associate, waiting to check out, waiting for anything. Any waiting the customer must do is a major annoyance.
- Shopping carts that don’t work properly. You know what we mean – the ones with the wonky wheel, the ones that need an alignment, the ones that have trash in them from the previous shopper. Keep shopping carts in good order to avoid annoying customers.
- Annoying environment. Again, just about any situation in your retail site can create an annoyance for your customer. Bad décor, too noisy or too quiet, too hot or cold, too brightly lit or not brightly lit enough. Anything that detracts from your customer’s experience should be addressed immediately.
- No place to sit down. There seems to be a philosophy among retailers that shoppers should not sit. Perhaps the thinking is, if we don’t give them a place to sit, they’ll keep shopping. Well, here’s a news flash. Sometimes shoppers need to sit. To take a phone call, consider their shopping list, or just to take a break, shoppers need to sit. And if you don’t provide a place for that, they will leave your store and find somewhere else to sit. And then they might not come back!
- Stores that have the same merchandise as all the other stores. Nothing puts a damper on a shopping trip faster than seeing the same merchandise over and over, store after store. If variety is the spice of life, variety is the life force of the shopper!
- Feeling you don’t appreciate their business. Everyone wants to be appreciated, and appreciating shoppers should be second nature to retailers. However, expressing that appreciation sincerely seems to be a challenge for some associates. Modeling the appropriate way to express sincere appreciation should be addressed by managers.
Addressing all of these potential annoyances won’t guarantee customer satisfaction, but at least you won’t be actively chasing customers out of your store! To achieve high levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty, think holistically about the customer experience. And take a look at StellaService’s recent blog: Two New Ways to Improve the Customer Shopping Experience.
Beyond that, make it clear for your associates what the expectations are and how to get there – clarity is king. Then measure the execution – inspect what you expect.