Am I invisible?


Or are you just ignoring me?

Running some errands on a recent weekday afternoon, I stopped at the Washington Square Mall in Beaverton, Oregon.  I wasn’t shopping for anything specific, I just hadn’t spent much tome in retail spaces as of late.  While in the back of my mind, I was mulling over what I would pack for an upcoming visit to Europe so I was inclined to buy if  a store made me feel welcome and they offered the right product.

My first stop was Dick’s Sporting Goods where I actively shopped in the Golf, Camping, Activewear and Footwear departments along with a deep dive in the clearance racks.  I was never greeted, engaged or even acknowledged by any store staff members.

Macy’s was the next stop where I spent some time checking out men’s clothing and footwear.  Again, nary a nod or a smile from a Macy’s staff member.

Stepping in to Williams-Sonoma, I checked out the newest additions to their cookware line and cutlery.  Spotting a potential gift for an upcoming birthday, I removed several items from a rack and examined them within ten feet of the salesperson stationed near the front of the store.  Can you guess my experience?  Right, no greeting.

Now, I am six foot and two inches tall and weigh well over 200 pounds.  I was wearing a red plaid shirt.  But in spite of my size and bright clothing, I was beginning to feel that I was invisible.  my invincibility apparently continued.

These are the stores I entered and where I actively shopped (examining product, checking sizes, reading packaging and even trying some things on).

  • H&M
  • The Walking Company
  • Brookstone
  • Kiehl’s
  • Shoe Mill
  • Tesla
  • Zumiez
  • Champ’s Sports
  • JCPenney
  • Pottery Barn
  • Vans
  • Sears

It was not all bad.  Below you will find the stores that greeted me warmly and engaged me.

  • Lolli and Pops
  • Apple
  • Nordstrom
  • Eddie Bauer

It was in the last store where I spent over $150.

Teachable Moment

I am a fan of Paco Underhill and one of my favorite quotes from Why We Buy is “Shopper conversion rate increases by half when there is a staff-initiated contact.”  It is that simple.  If you say hi, they will buy.

None of the stores that I stopped in were busy.  There were always available floor staff visible on the floor.  I passed many store personal while I was walking and browsing.

Why didn’t they greet me?  I am not asking everyone to engage me in conversation but a simple nod and smile would go along way to making me feel welcome and appreciated.  Shame on the stores where I was not acknowledged.  There were no good reasons why I was not greeted and made to feel welcome in every store I visited.

As store employees we must always remember that the customers are the reason we exist and we must all make them feel welcome.  As managers, we must model, observe and coach our employees to make customers feel welcome.

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