Several years ago, I saw a fascinating TV show on retailing. If my memory serves me correctly, it was called Buyology. One of the most interesting segments reported on the stress of shopping and Holiday shopping especially.
When you are under significant stress, the body creates the steroid, cortisol, to help you deal with the situation. It is your body’s chemical behind the “fight or flight” mechanism.
Another characteristic of cortisol is that you can test a person’s cortisol level using a simple oral swab, so researchers went out and swabbed people’s mouths during stressful events to measure the stress caused by certain events.
The researchers tested combat pilots; it seems they have high stress levels in when being shot at. (Only a governmental program would spend a lot of money to find that result.) They also tested Holiday shoppers at a major mall the weekend before Christmas.
Stopped by Eddie Bauer the other day to check out their Fall assortment.
As I wandered through the men’s department, the salesperson approached me.
“Hello,” Jordan offered with a smile.
“Hello,” I responded.
“Nice jacket. Who made it?” he queried.
Last fall I was in the market for a new tent and after doing some research, I narrowed the choices down to just three. Given my size, I like to try tents out before I buy them so I headed out to the local Mountain Hardwear shop where they had the Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 in stock.
Having done my research ahead of time, I knew the statistics on the tent such as dimensions, weight, packed size and materials. I also knew the price. At $240, it is a moderately priced tent in the Mountain Hardwear line, where tents can range to over $500.
I arrived at the store nicely dressed and freshly showered. As I entered the store, I was greeted warmly by the person near the cash wrap as I made my way to the back of the store to the tent department. As luck would have it, the Optic 2.5 was actually set up on the sales floor for display. This kept me from going through the hassle of asking to have the tent set-up. As I bent down to crawl into the tent, a clerk approached me.
Chilton Table in Spalted Sugarberry by Room & Board
As we continued through Room & Board, I was feeling less and less inclined to spend any money there and was anxious to leave.
But then, towards the back of the store, we found ourselves standing in front of an interesting piece, the Chilton Table in Spalted Sugarberry. My wife and I looked at one another and began to talk about how we both truly admired the table. We also admitted that neither of us cared all that much for our current dining room table bought less than 3 years ago.
As we stood examining the table and discussing how a table like this would be great to have in our home, an amazing thing happened. Amazing since I had long since given up hope that anyone would ever greet us much less offer any help.
A smiling Room & Board employee stepped up to a nearby computer terminal to lookup some information. While going about her business, she turned to my wife and I and said, “Isn’t it a beautiful table?”
“It is beautiful,” my wife responded.
On a recent trip to Seattle’s University Village (an outdoor shopping mall), my wife and I decided to make a visit to Room & Board Home Furnishings. We have always liked their product and since they are not now located in Portland, this was our chance to check out their latest selections.
When we walked in the front door of the store we immediately saw two employees. They were strategically positioned next to the front of store featured furniture display and at the edge of the drive aisle leading around the store. I assumed that they were there to greet customers entering the store. That was a rash assumption.
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.
I found myself downtown earlier than I had expected and I had an hour to kill before I met my wife for lunch so I took the opportunity to wander around a bit. I soon found myself outside of a small boutique that sold upscale clothing for young professional women.
Being a man who is decidedly not young and casually attired, I clearly did not look like the target customer of the store. But it was a wonderfully merchandised store that I just had to check out. So I went.
I stopped by a local shop the other day. I was in a hurry and just needed to pick up one thing. Grabbing the item, I headed to the registers.
Along the way, I overheard a customer talking with a salesperson.
“It’s as if you didn’t hear anything that I’ve said!”
That is a phrase you never want to hear a customer say and I know that interaction had gone badly. I only wish that I hadn’t been in such a rush or I would have stopped to observe more. I moved on to the registers and was quickly out the door. As I was getting on my bicycle, I looked up to see the customer getting in his car and driving away; empty-handed.
While having my bad experience in the bookstore two days ago, I spotted a travel book that looked interesting but that I decided to take a pass on. Once I got home, I realized that the book would have been a welcome addition to my travel library and I decided I should go ahead and buy it. This called for a return to the scene of the crime.
So yesterday I stopped back at the bookstore while I was out running some errands. The plan was to run in, grab the book and be on my way.
The store was quiet when I went in. I found the book quickly and headed towards the registers. Just like the day before, I was greeted by great spring weather framed by the front windows and two cashiers having a friendly conversation. Luckily my cashier from the day before was not one of them.
I stopped by an area department store the other day to make a purchase. What I bought does not matter since this post is not about me but rather about the two customers in front of me at the checkout counter. I found an interesting contrast between their two service experiences.
After making my selections, I wandered to the cash wrap and got in line with my fellow customers. (This particular department store is one that uses a centralized cash wrap in each area off the store.) Two cashiers were ringing up people’s purchases and, between the two of them, they were making short work of the people waiting in line.
The two customers in front of me in line wore professional clothing and each were purchasing a blouse and a pair of pants (on hangers). They were called up to the registers at the same time, so I took the opportunity to observe the two cashiers work head to head. The cashier on the right was professionally dressed and had a warm, friendly and professional demeanor; let’s call her Right. The cashier on the left was casually attired and was terse with customers; let’s call her Left. (It was just a coincidence that correct cashier happened to be on the right.)