As a retailer, you work hard to attract customers to your location so the last thing you want is to drive them away when they’re already inside your store.
But whether or not you realize it, you or your team may be doing things that send shoppers packing.
So, we polled shoppers and retail professionals about their top pet peeves when it comes to retail. Have a look at what they had to say below.
1. Requesting for too much information but offering little value
When the cashier asks me for my postal code or phone number or email as if it is a non-negotiable requirement to complete the transaction, and then get annoyed when I decline or ask why. If there’s no clear value provided, we cannot expect consumers to simply volunteer their personal data.
– Sokmean Nou, Founder & CEO, Calixa
While collecting customer data is an important best practice in retail, you need to ensure you’re putting shoppers’ details to good use. Today’s consumers are usually fine with handing over their personal details, as long as you make it worthwhile to do so.
Data from Accenture indicates that two-thirds of consumers are willing to share their data with brands in exchange for some perceived value.
So, don’t hoard customer data or collect their information just for the sake of it. Instead, use their data to provide tremendous value — such as exclusive experiences, personalized offerings, or useful content.
As Devon Seidel, Marketing and Design Specialist at Loop Insights puts it, “a big one [pet peeve] for me is the lack of useful customer profiles when shopping in-store. I’m constantly asked for my email or phone number at check out, but I get nothing from it. Maybe a generic email here and there. They know how many times I shop, what I buy, when I buy it and still, my shopping experience is never personalized.”
Remember that when your customers see the value in providing their information, they’re more likely to share even more details with you.
2. Not having strong loyalty offerings
Its 2020, and a lot of loyalty programs are still lacking value! The retailers who have updated their current programs to be personalized, with easy and immediate redemption for rewards, are the ones that have actually maintained my loyalty.
– Ayesha Renyard, Communications Coordinator, Loop Insights
If you have a loyalty initiative (and you totally should), make sure you’re giving members a smooth and rewarding experience. It’s one thing to get people to sign up for your rewards program, but getting them to consistently participate is a different game.
Beef up your loyalty efforts by making it easy to collect and redeem rewards and make sure your program runs seamlessly across physical and digital platforms.
One retailer that does this well is MySelf Lingerie, a New York-based retailer that sells high-quality lingerie.
MySelf Lingerie runs their loyalty, automated email targeting, and customer feedback programs through Vend POS and Marsello, a loyalty and marketing automation platform.
Marsello runs their loyalty program, an automated win-back program and can also send email marketing campaigns for sales, promotions and product launches.
“Customers love redeeming the coupons – it’s mostly only a few dollars off a purchase, but they feel like they’ve won the Brooklyn Bridge,” says Rachel Rosenthal, the co-owner of MySelf Lingerie.
Since launching Vend and Marsello, Myself Lingerie has seen a staggering ROI of 70x on the tool costs, driving over $50,000 in revenue and increasing repeat purchase frequency and customer lifetime value. Overall, MySelf has seen more than two million dollars in revenue from repeat customers — an incredible example of the impact of investing in loyalty programs.
Did you know that Vend comes with a built-in loyalty program that lets you reward your best customers? Use it to grow your database, build stronger customer relationships, and drive repeat business!
3. Running promotions that can only be redeemed in-store OR online
In-store only or online-only promotions. No one wants to worry about this, and neither do your employees when handling those irate customers. It should always be in synergy!
– Anita Kolenovic, General Manager of Operations, adidas
It’s 2020, and if your promotions are still implemented in silos (i.e., online vs brick-and-mortar), you’re going to miss out on revenue opportunities.
As Anita puts it, neither your customers nor your employees want to worry about whether or not an offer will be redeemable in-store or online.
They just want things to “work,” period. That’s why you should arm your retail store with a system that allows you to smoothly do business across online and offline channels. Your POS system must be able to “talk” to your ecommerce platform so that sales, customers, and inventory data flows smoothly from one platform to the next.
4. Not having the right items in stock
Finding something that I like and want to purchase only to find my size isn’t available readily on the rack and there’s no stock available.
– Karl Birch, Clinical Sales Specialist, Rocket Medical
Stockouts are a major issue in retail. They lead to missed sales opportunities, wasted marketing dollars, and disappointed customers.
Avoid them by paying attention to your inventory data. Regularly analyze your stock reports and keep an eye on metrics like:
- Stock turn
- Out of stock patterns
- Bestsellers and slow-movers
Closely tracking these things will help you optimize your ordering and merchandising, so you can ensure that you have the right SKUs at the right time.
Vend lets you track all these metrics and more. With Vend’s powerful reporting capabilities, you can see stock on hand and inventory levels at a glance, so it’s easy to make sure you always have enough of your top-selling products.
5. Failing to curate your assortment properly
Trying to cram in as many lines of stock as possible to try and be all things to all people. If I’m going to a supermarket, I’m not likely to want to pick up vinyl albums or a book, or a set of curling tongs.
– Adam Lucas, Supply Chain Professional and Data Analyst
Still on the topic of inventory management, keeping a close eye on the metrics mentioned above will also help you figure out what you shouldn’t stock up on.
One of the keys to retail success is having the ability to curate the right products. Accomplishing that starts by analyzing your inventory data, but a big component also lies in getting to know your customers and your market.
Stay on top of industry trends so you always have the hottest products on your shelves. It also helps to regularly have conversations with your customers, so you can figure out exactly what they want to see and buy when they’re in your store.
Aubade Jewelry, a Kuwait-based jewelry boutique, does this incredibly well. Duha M. Al-Ramadhan, the Founder and CEO of Aubade Jewelry, explains that her customers are always craving for trendy pieces, and she fulfills this demand by being thoughtful with the designers and products that she carries in her store.
“Our clients are always ahead of the trends and are looking for new styles of jewelry to stand out,” explains Duha.
“As a fine jewelry boutique, Aubade aims to provide just that – new names and styles of jewelry, as well as trusted quality. I personally handpick each brand and piece of jewelry to ensure that it brings something new to the market, but I will never compromise on quality. Both innovation and quality of jewelry have to come hand in hand.”
“Another exciting aspect of the store is our roster of events. We love hosting our international designers for trunk shows, whereby our designer will fly to Kuwait to showcase a broader range of their collection. Clients can then come in to shop the collection as well as meet the designer behind the brand, which always keeps things fresh and exciting.“
6. Having a disorganized retail store
Lack of orginasation in stores. For example, having the wrong price tags and disorganised shelves and merchandise… when it happens often in the same store, I personally wouldn’t go back.
– Elham (Mimí), Customer Experience Manager, Victoria’s Secret
Having the best products won’t do much if your shop is disorganized.
Make it a point to tidy up several times throughout the day. Instruct your associates re-stock shelves that have missing items and have them check product labels and signage for accuracy.
Doing so makes your products easier to find and it makes your store look much more presentable.
7. Failing to establish fitting room boundaries
I hate retailers that let women bring men into the ladies’ fitting room with them. Trying on clothing and walking to the 3-way mirror to find a guy standing there is unnerving. Let them wait outside the fitting room entrance. I expect it in a unisex fitting room, not at Ann Taylor.
– Georganne Bender, Author, Speaker, and Consumer Anthropologist
This one is for retailers that sell women’s apparel. You want your shoppers to feel comfortable when trying on clothes, which is why it’s important to establish boundaries in your fitting room area.
If you have customers who are uncomfortable with say, having too many people outside the fitting room (particularly if they’re of the opposite sex), you may want to set up guidelines telling guests to have their partners wait outside the fitting room entrance.
8. Having associates who lack the right attitude
Lack of empathy in customer service and lack of communication skills. Associates avoiding customers and not making eye contact showing a lack of interest and being unengaged.
– Elham (Mimí), Customer Experience Manager, Victoria’s Secret
Your in-store associates play a major role in the shopper experience, so they need to be at the top of their game at all times. Here are some of the good behaviors to encourage in your employees:
- Greet customers in a sincere and welcoming manner
- Practice active listening
- Learn how to read different types of customers
- Know when and how to up-sell or cross-sell
In retail, examples good customer service include remembering and appreciating repeat customers, forging a local connection with shoppers, putting your product knowledge to good use, and more. The following post shows you *exactly* what great customer service looks like in retail!
9. Not having properly groomed staff
Cashiers with too long fake nails that slow down the check out process.
– Lili C., Workplace Analyst, Founder, Stay or Stray
We had a couple of people add long fingernails or long fake nails in their list of retailer pet peeves. Now, this may not be an issue in your store, especially if you cater to care-free, hipster shoppers, but if your guests are on the conservative side, you may want to establish guidelines about the length of your staff’s fingernails.
But the bigger point here ensuring that the appearance of your employees are in line with the brand image you’d like to project.
If you’re a high-end fashion boutique for professional women, then having a smart dress code may make sense for your store. But if you’re an artsy store that caters to a free-spirited crowd, then you can give your team more freedom to express themselves through their clothing and accessories.
The key is to figure out what works in your store and go from there.
10. Making returns or exchanges difficult
Outdated or consumer complicated policies or processes for returns (including online) or exchanges.
– Anita Kolenovic, General Manager of Operations, adidas
No retailer wants to deal with returns or exchanges, but it comes with the territory of running a retail biz.
While it’s important to have regulations that prevent return abuse, you also don’t want to make the process too complicated. It’s a tricky balance, and the right policies will vary from one merchant to the next.
For some retailers, having a generous return policy wins them more shoppers. Other merchants may find that they need to be strict with their rules or at least have stringent guidelines for specific products (like electronics or “final sale” items).
The best way to figure out the right policy is to analyze the shopping behavior of your customers and factor in the types of products that you have. Doing so will give you the insights you need to craft and implement the right guidelines.
Hopefully, the shopper input we’ve presented above sheds light on things that you can improve in your retail business. If you find that you or your team are guilty of the above pet peeves, take this as an opportunity to turn things around.
Maybe you need to revamp the attitude of your team. Perhaps your store’s policies could use an update. Or maybe you need a new retail management system that lets you do business online and offline.
The right course of action depends on your business, so take a good look at your operations and find ways to level up.
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.