Stores exist to sell. Whether it’s a clothing store, a grocery store or a comic book store, the goal is to sell what’s on the shelf. Just like first impressions matter with people, first impressions are important in the retail space too. When I walk into a store and see items piled and disheveled, it tells me that the store (and company, employees and owners) doesn’t value itself or its customers. Why? A disorganized store makes it harder for me to shop. I must move things out of the way to reach what I want. I need to dig and search. I may not even find what I am looking for because it is not clearly displayed. Disorder can often be found in discount stores, but they’re not the only ones. I’ve had to step over piles of shoe boxes in high-end stores. I understand that understaffing can play a part, as can big sales. But presentation is so important when you’re trying to sell a product.
Imagine you want to buy a pair of size 10 shoes for your niece. You walk into a shoe store, scan the store, and kick a box as you move forward. Then you find the kids area and there is a metal shoe sizer in the middle of the aisle along with four shoe boxes, some empty, others with only one shoe in them. The other shoes are on the floor nearby. You move them out of the way in order to get closer to the shoe rack. You find the area marked “10” and pick up a pair. They’re really cute and you think your niece will love them. Then you check the size and it says “8”. There are no other identical shoes in a size 10. At this point, you’ve encountered four problems and you still haven’t found what you’re looking for. I would have walked out at this point and continued my search at a different store. They lost business because it was difficult to move throughout the store and find an item. Each time you encounter a barrier, it adds a little negativity to your experience. The mess and misplacement of items prevents you from finding what you need.
Now imagine walking into a store and seeing nice wide aisles and items neatly displayed on the shelves. You maneuver easily through the store, browsing as you go. Large signs identify different sections and you easily find the area you’re looking for. You look at the display and see products carefully placed and well-stocked. This order is much more pleasing to the eye. You don’t need to work so hard to shop, which makes for a better experience. Finding what you need quickly feels great. Grocery stores are a good example of this. Huge signs that say Dairy, Meat and Pharmacy help you to focus on exactly where you want to go. It’s especially helpful when you need to get in and out quickly, as other errands (or dinner prep!) are next on your to-do list.
Shopping is generally thought of as a positive thing. People shop to relax, to feel good and to buy items that improve their life. Disorganized stores lose the opportunity to deliver that experience and lose sales as a result. I’d rather shop at a store that is bright and organized. It provides me with what I need in a pleasing environment. That store earned my dollar, and I will likely return again.
What is important to you when you shop? Share your “shopping values” in the comments below.