Unless she wants you to leave her alone.
The shopper is giving mixed signals. And that’s her prerogative. She doesn’t want to be ignored. But she also doesn’t want to be bothered. What’s the right balance? Insights from the Harvard Business Review assert that the amount of human interaction that shoppers want in a retail store may be less than we think.
“Your In-Store Customers Want More Privacy” presents data from researchers who performed field experiments with shoppers in mass-merchandise stores. And the findings indicate that sensitivity, people-reading skills and a deft touch are needed to create an ideal shopper experience.
Among researchers’ findings:
- Shoppers buy less when they feel they don’t have personal space. Shoppers are 25% less likely to purchase an item if they feel another person is too close to them.
- Shoppers buy less if they feel like they’re being watched. If eye contact is made between a shopper and sales associate, shoppers are 37% less likely to purchase their intended product during that trip.
- When purchasing revealing products, shoppers buy even less if there’s too much human interaction. When customers felt “their personal-space was invaded,” they were more likely to abandon a purchase of an item that is expressive of their personality, like make-up or hair color.
Give the Shopper the Opportunity to Truly Personalize Her Experience
More than anything, the shopper wants to have choices so that she can chart her own path to purchase. She needs choices of when and how she interacts with a brand and its representatives. It may not be that she doesn’t want human interaction when she shops; perhaps she just doesn’t want it on this particular trip.
Help her personalize her shopping experience. Understand that sometimes she just wants to be left alone, and give her the options of personal space and control. Never crowd her physically or pressure her. Provide tools so that she can research products she’s interested in (and know that she probably has done her research before she entered the store). Be there if she needs you.
Build Options For Privacy Into the Shopper Experience
- Greet shoppers, and then step away. Let her know she is welcome, and then give her a few minutes to orient herself.
- Place shopping baskets throughout the store. This allows shoppers to place items into baskets when they decide to purchase them without walking around with them in-hand and feeling judged.
- Communicate clearly with signage and display. Anticipate and answer the shopper’s questions with legible, well-placed signage.
- Place expensive items behind glass. Putting expensive items behind glass can make shoppers feel more comfortable when browsing. Employees must watch over expensive stock more closely. Eliminating the possibility of theft can allow staff to pull back from watching over those areas.
- Present product demo videos. Position screens near product displays that show how items work and how they benefit the shopper.
Of course I’m not advocating ignoring the shopper or downplaying the importance of human interaction. Just the opposite, in fact. The most valuable shopper experience is one that reflects a heightened awareness of the shopper’s moods and desires, adjusting behavior in real time to suit the situation and providing options so that she can create the interaction she wants.
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