Monday, November 13, 2017

How Retailers Can Make us "Go Shopping" Again

I am constantly reading about how brick and mortar retailers are going out of business due to internet retailers. "We can't compete, we can't compete," is their cry.

It seems that in the past several years very little has changed in the brick and mortar retail world, which is a big part of their problem. Here are some ideas that might get more of us away from online and back into on site.

Dressing room lighting.
For all clothing retailers from discount to department stores, please install pleasant lighting in your dressing rooms! Most of the time clothes that I buy and try on at the store actually look much better at home because the lighting was so harsh in the dressing room. This makes me wonder how many sweaters, jeans and dresses are tried on and not purchased by consumers because the lighting in the dressing room was so unflattering.  Also, please make the doors cover more than our middles. I don't enjoy walking through the dressing room seeing everyone's feet and sometimes their undergarments on the floor...and ouch those hard benches hurt! A little cushioning in the seating would be very much appreciated.

If you spend a little more to make the dressing rooms pleasant instead of an uncomfortable experience we just try to "get through," perhaps both women and especially men shoppers, (who most try to hurry through shopping as if they were on fire), would spend more time trying on and thereby buying clothes.

Don't charge us to park. 
We are coming to give you our money! With the sad state of shopping malls and department stores these days charging to park makes no sense to me. Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas gets this right. If you can't do it free like they do at least provide free parking validation with a minimum purchase. The idea is to get people into the malls again not send them to another retailer that doesn't charge to park or worse yet back home where they can "park" themselves on their sofa.

Fashion Show Mall Las Vegas offers free parking for all

Stop the pressure for store credit cards.
Trust me we know almost every retailer in the country has their own credit card, and yes we know we get a discount if we apply, thank you. No, we still don't want to apply, but thank you. No, REALLY we don't want to apply so stop constantly asking. This is one of the main reasons I avoid Target and other retailers who are especially guilty of this practice. Even when I'm spending a few dollars I get the credit card pitch multiple times. It's annoying and an invasion of privacy. No, I don't want to apply for a credit card when trying to buy Advil and bottled water at Target, and I don't want to "just apply anyway for the discount," as that lowers my credit score and I shouldn't have to explain that to the cashier, (as if they didn't know). I'm not getting on the cashiers case here because I feel bad for them having to hustle the customers constantly.

Macy's seems better about this since they've implemented their Plenti bonus program because they get something out of that, like our shopping history and habits, which is at least  fair trade for some discounts and points given in exchange to us. All of this pressure for store credit cards takes away from our enjoyment of shopping. Many times if I'm buying something that's easy to order online like bath towels I'll do that instead of going to the store and getting pressured at check out for a credit card. This is unfortunate for the retailers because when I physically go to a store I usually buy more than just what I came there for.

Provide some seating.
It's a mobile world and we have to check our phones from time to time, return texts, emails etc. while shopping. If you would provide a small lounge or area with basic seating we would not have to leave to get things done. You could put up a sign saying "A 15 minute limit for seating is requested."...This would also  provide a place for our impatient husbands or teens to go so we have more time to shop when they want to leave and we're not ready. That extra time we spend at your store will sometimes result in us spending more but at the very least would make the experience more pleasant and somewhere we would all be more likely to return to. You could also provide a couple of computers with a link only to your site in case we can't find exactly the size or color we want on while at your location we could find out which one of your nearby stores has it. I have to do this on my phone sometimes and it's not always easy with the Wifi situation at some retailers and malls.

Sell drinks and snacks.
Many stores sell drinks and candy bars at check out as well as some department stores and I have to admit I've caved on that many times. At check out is too late though. Vending machines that are easy to locate (perhaps near my proposed seating area wink wink), would be better. Some water, energy drinks, and a few snacks would help us weary and hungry shoppers stay put. Nothing makes me quit shopping faster than getting hungry. My local Macy's makes that easy by having a Starbucks right inside the store!

Provide better quality.
Try not to put out so much merchandise that is Made in China. We know that quality on almost all clothing has decreased and we have come to accept a certain amount of that, but please remember when we're spending sometimes a lot of money on a supposed "designer" item we can tell when it's made cheaply. I know online retailers are guilty of this too, but you all need to shape up on this one, manufacturers, distributors and retailers alike.

Trust me when I say we still want to "go shopping." It's enjoyable to meet a friend for lunch and go shopping, or take our daughter to buy her first prom dress, select a gift for our friend's birthday, or go with our husband so he can  buy a suit for a friend's wedding. We really DON'T want to do everything online. Just try a little harder to keep up with the competition, (which is our living room), by making it easy and actually enjoyable for us to shop. We'll come back to those of you that do!