What Do Customers Define as a Negative Shopping Experience?
Trying to resist the appeal of the front door while enduring the glare of the pushy, over-intimidating sales assistant?
Waiting for the painfully ignorant cashiers to finish their conversation so they can get served?
Perhaps the uneasiness of browsing around a silent, emotionless store, listening to nothing more than the musical collaboration of awkward footsteps and the painful screeching of shuffling clothes hangers…
Yes, bad shopping experiences come in many shapes and forms. Some directly impacting potential sales, and in more extreme cases, resulting in permanently lost customers.
Research shows that the following 6 factors have the biggest influence on whether customers will head straight for your tills or straight for the front door.
Where does your store stand?
An uninviting, dreary atmosphere is the most successful way of driving your customers out and into the nearest competitor. Small factors such as lighting, music and general layout of a store inevitably affects a customer’s entire shopping experience.
Think of the blissfully contented feeling you get walking into a huge department store around the festive season; the warm atmosphere, great music and strong visual displays all appeal to your senses – this is the impact you’re aiming for.
A store’s checklist for a good atmosphere:
- Temperature – this should be accommodating in every season. Customers often go into a store to simply get out of the freezing cold or scorching heat, which unsurprisingly results in impulse buys (ching, ching!).
- Complimentary lighting – ensure you have well-lit shelves, display cases, stands, and more importantly, flattering dressing room lighting; if a girl thinks she looks fat in your dress, she ain’t gonna buy it.
- Psychology behind the music – numerous theorists have demonstrated that good music can draw people into a store and increases a customer’s browsing time. What more can be said only get your hands on a good CD.
- Layout – Customer’s shouldn’t have to frantically sift through rails and shelves to see your products properly. Displays should be well organised, uncluttered and fully visible to customers walking into the store. General organization should also be spacious enough that customers can move freely without rubbing shoulders.
2. Bad Customer Service
Loud and obnoxious cashiers, pushy sales assistants, ignorant waiting staff… yes, we’ve all experienced the bad customer service that’s put a dampener on our day out shopping.
Terrible customer service is probably the most significant reason for a negative shopping experience, and often the factor that goes most unnoticed by employers.
Employees may seem like the most enthusiastic, self-motivated staff in existence when the big boss is around, but how can you monitor customer service when your back is turned?
Mystery shoppers don’t have to be the paid and trained kind. They could be trusted family or friends willing to test out your store’s performance and provide you with honest feedback on how staff treats your valued customers.
Get them in there and test the waters!
3. Lack of Product Knowledge
Knowledge is power for retailers.
Could you successfully sell a product if you didn’t know how it could meet the needs and demands of the customer?
Knowing a product inside and out is the best way of shutting down any uncertainty or objections the customer may have in the selling process. Knowledge builds confidence, which in turn stimulates enthusiasm, all of which are key traits in a good sales assistant.
Knowing which products work well together can also result in multiple sales as well as maximize overall customer satisfaction.
What should you know about your products?
- Variations: styles, colours, models
- Background/history of the product
- How it is used
- What products work well with it
How can you increase your staff’s product knowledge?
- Training programs
- Marketing content
- Product testing/sampling
4. No Pricing
“Sorry, could you tell me how much this is?”
Sound familiar? Having to ask a member of staff the price of a product couldn’t be more frustrating for customers. Those of us in a rush won’t even bother waiting around to ask, we’ll just move on to the next store.
Having no pricing can give the impression your store is either lazy or trying to conceal the fact that the price is ridiculously high.
ALWAYS price your products correctly, it saves a lot of time and frustration for both customers and staff.
5. Poor Website
Your store’s online presence can have a huge effect on how your business is perceived. A poor website doesn’t exactly scream success, if you want customers to make contact with you regarding your products or services, you need a well-structured, visually appealing, professionally designed website.
If your website has any of the following characteristics, get rid of them, FAST!
- Broken Links
- “Under Construction” messages
- Excessive pop-ups
- Too much advertising
- No contact details
- No opening hours
- Poor/outdated images
- Poor layout
- Lack of/excessive content
- Disorganized navigation
6. Returns Policy
Have you ever encountered a returns policy so pitiful they may as well have printed “no take-backs” on the till receipts? How did you perceive the brand as a result; deceitful, untrustworthy, unreliable? and more importantly, have you shopped there since?
Didn’t think so.
In a survey conducted by allbusiness.com, 91% of customers claimed that the returns policy is a vital factor when making a purchasing decision. A strong, clear returns policy gives customers confidence and security to purchase from your brand as well as demonstrating that you stand behind your products.
Characteristics of a good returns policy:
- Clarity – A good policy outlines what can be returned, whether customers will be granted a full refund or store credit, how long they have to make a return and if there are shipping costs.
- Convenience – This is particularly important for e-commerce. Always include a returns label, returns form, instructions and the option for a collection service. The beauty of buying online means the customers can purchase from the comfort of their own home, ideally they should be able to return products conveniently this way too.
- Affordability – If a customer is dissatisfied with a product the last thing they want to do is pay expensive shipping costs to get them back to you. To keep your customers happy, eliminate or minimize shipping costs as much as possible.
- Flexibility – The returns timeline is one on the most important factors of a returns policy. The longer the timeline, the better; nobody wants to deal with the pressure of meeting a tight return deadline. Ideally, lenience should be given around the holiday period when gifts are bought far in advance. If applicable to the product, a reliable warranty also shows that you value both your products and customers.
Remember, a great shopping experience can be the most effective form of marketing!
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