Here at YOOBIC, we talk about in-store experiences a lot. 

We think the in-store customer experience is crucial to the success of brick and mortar. We've even written an eBook about it

The tiniest things can either create a loyal customer for life or have shoppers leaving in droves.

Check out the sign in the real-life picture above, taken by our CRO, Luca.

Store teams might think it's just a little mistake with a sign, no big deal. 

But when shoppers walk into the store, they're going to think it's the jeans that are on offer for £70, not the luxurious 100% cashmere sweaters - which are nowhere to be seen!

How is £70 an offer for a pair of jeans? They'll probably leave the store and look for somewhere less expensive. 

We really wanted to see if shoppers notice all the moving parts that comprise a perfect in-store experience: sales associate knowledge, behaviour, visual merchandising, layout and so much more. 

We all shop. So who better to ask than the YOOBIC team? 

We asked our team to tell us about a recent shopping experience of theirs that really stood out for good or bad reasons.

We got a few insightful statistics, too. 

Out of everyone who told us about their in-store experiences, only 50% would definitely be returning to the store

Around 85% think seeing, handling and trying things on before buying is most important to them when shopping in-store. 

23% said they prefer shopping online, and the rest of the responses were evenly split between preferring both online and in-store and in-store only.

The overwhelming consensus was that the convenience of online is preferable if you know exactly what you want, but stores are best for browsing and trying before you buy. 

But what really makes a shopping experience good or bad? Was it an unhelpful sales associate or an item out of stock?

Let's find out.

The Good

1) Bahareh, Customer Success

What were you shopping for? Shoes

What made it a good experience? Efficiency, customer service and store technology

What happened? I was buying shoes and instead of the sales assistant always having to go to the stock room, they had a runner who was on the phone.  So the sales assistant would stay with me and I could choose as many shoes and sizes as I liked, while he would use his headset to tell someone who would go and get my shoes from the back for me.

 

2) Vandna, Marketing 

What were you shopping for? Shoes

What made it a good experience? Customer service, store tech

What happened? The store didn't have my size trainers, so a staff member helped me order and pay for the shoes on an iPad in-store for home delivery, which meant I saved on delivery costs! Bonus - it was next day delivery which usually costs a silly amount.

 

3) Adrien, Marketing

What were you shopping for? Clothes

What made it a good experience? Sales associate behaviour

What happened? The store didn't have my size so one of the sales associates went all the way to another store to bring me my size, and offered me coffee while I was waiting! 

 

4) Tamir, Development 

What were you shopping for? Groceries

What made it a good experience? Store tech

What happened? Came in, grabbed my watermelon, saw massive queues of people, went into the self-checkout section and left the store happy with no waiting. 

 

The Bad

1) Jacqueline, Marketing

What were you shopping for? Video games.

What made it a bad experience? Sales associate knowledge, online/offline synergy

What happened? I needed to pick up a video game for a birthday present and checked online if the store had the game in-stock before I left to go pick it up. When I arrived at the store, none of the sales associates knew where the key for the video game cupboard was, and I waited 20 minutes while they tried to find it. Turns out they didn't have it in stock and hadn't for days. 

 

2) Leslie, Customer Success

What were you shopping for? Shoes

What made it a bad experience? Sales associate behaviour, customer service

What happened? I had to wait forever and look for a staff member to be able to try on a pair of shoes!

 

3) Celia, Customer Success

What were you shopping for? Perfume/cosmetics

What made it a bad experience? Visual merchandising, store layout, customer service.

What happened? Bad customer service, bad team organisation and no clear explanation as to where the checkout was. I ended up needing 30 minutes to checkout with one product while there were no other customers except me at the till, and 6 sales associates in the shop (they were more focused on helping other customers and some didn't know how to use the till). Also, I was waiting in the wrong place because it wasn't evident where the checkout counter was (weird store layout). 

 

The Tragic

Caroline, Marketing

What were you shopping for? Clothing

What made it a bad experience? Visual merchandising/store design, store layout sales associate knowledge and behaviour. 

What happened? I was in Paris visiting a friend and we were walking around. We hadn't planned on doing any shopping, but we passed by a store and I saw a green dress I REALLY liked in the window display. I really wanted to check it out. 

I went into the store and initially thought that because the dress was in the window it would probably be displayed in the front or near the entrance. That would be the logical thing to do, right? If a specific thing displayed in the window makes you come inside the store then you want to find it quickly. 

However, that wasn't the case! 

I found a sales associate and asked her where I could find the little green dress displayed in the window but she didn't know, didn't seem to care what I was talking about and ignored me. 

So I looked some more, then went upstairs too and looked everywhere and asked all the sales associates but nobody knew! 

I think it's insane to have something showcased outside a store and NOT have it in-store, or know where shoppers can find it. It could have been out-of-stock, but the sales associate could have told me, or checked! She didn't even bother trying to understand which dress I was talking about. 

It was super upsetting and I left without buying anything. It's a shame as they managed to make me enter the store, just with the display. Half the job was already done, but it turned into a bad experience. 

Voila, it was tragic. 

 

And finally, the heartbreaking :( 

Armelle, Marketing

What were you shopping for? Groceries

What made it a bad experience? Online/offline synergy

What happened? I was looking for Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Spread, and online it said the store had the product in-stock, but they didn't. So sad :'(

 

What can we conclude from this? The common denominator in most of these in-store experiences is the help (or lack thereof) provided by sales associates. What might seem as simple as giving a shopper a nice cup of coffee while they wait is what differentiates an OK experience from a memorable one. 

So why not treat every shopper this way? The secret to doing this not once, but consistently, is clear, concise instructions that make it easy for store teams to shine. 

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