Retail Pet Peeves

Retail FrustrationsNot all people are retailers, but all people including retailers are customers. No matter your role in the retail game, we have all faced the good and the annoying, recognizing what retailers do right and what retailers do that rub us the wrong way. Below is my list of pet peeves I’ve developed over the years in regards to retail. What about retail bugs you? Is it something that might bug your customers as well?

Righting Retail Wrongs

1) Filling storefronts. Have you ever walked down Main Street looking at the storefronts, and noticed a window display crammed with a sample of everything the store carries to get the message out? The confusion and clutter created by doing this actually has the opposite affect on shoppers. They don’t get any message at all. When it comes to store windows and in-store displays, keeping things simple is always better.

2) Moving merchandise. Sometimes the natural tendency for retailers attempting to move merchandise that no one wants to buy is to actually give it more attention. They do this by putting the slow moving goods in the store window, creating a display in the store or worse yet, spending advertising money to promote it. This is a failed strategy void of all common sense. Sure you need to rid your shelves of problem merchandise as quickly as possible, but you don’t need to show the world your problems by highlighting trouble merchandise. You can’t grow volume by constantly focusing on what no one wants to buy. Volume is built when stores feature what customers want now!

3) Constructing a plan. What would happen if you built a house without an architect first drawing up a blueprint? Unless you were very lucky, the result would likely be disastrous. Yet this is exactly the gamble that retailers take when they buy without a well constructed merchandise plan. Unless the retail guardian angel intervenes, more often than not, inventory will be out of balance leading to stifled sales and missed buying opportunities. Overbuying is also likely to occur. As a result, poor cash flow, high markdowns and slower turnover will prevail.

4) Buying product. Have you ever known a store owner that buys a little bit from every vendor that calls on him or her? These are people that have a hard time saying “NO!” They don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, especially since the rep came all the way to the store, “just to show me the line.” Well, that’s his job. Your job is to buy a well balanced assortment that has meaning to your customers. When you buy a little from everyone, you end up with a whole lot of nothing. This practice leads to overbuying, duplication and confusion for the customer. In addition, the lines are not meaningful to the store and conversely, the store is not important to the manufacturer.

5) Providing service and making a sale. I hate going into a store prepared to buy only to be ignored. I don’t need to be hovered over, but I do expect to be greeted cheerfully when I walk in and have a knowledgeable salesperson available to answer any questions I may have. I understand the sales process and I appreciate other sales professionals that do too. Don’t just read the label to me when I am asking a product related question. Tell me something I don’t know. Providing extra information adds value to my shopping experience and makes me feel better about my purchase.

6) Using displays. It drive me nuts to go into a store and see a four-way display fixture jammed with three times more merchandise than it was ever intended to hold. Typically the same display will also be holding multiple lines, styles and even colors that don’t go together. This merchandising technique usually is associated with an over buyer or at the very least, an individual who does not understand how vital visual merchandising is to increased sales. Retailers can go the other way as well, showcasing empty racks, shelves or other fixtures lacking inventory. With expenses and competition being what it is today, it is so important that retailers scrutinize their merchandise presentation at all times in order to maximize sales.

7) Setting prices. There is no room for ridiculous pricing, as is the case of the store where the owner didn’t set the retail price and told the marking room to take a certain percentage markup. In this store, you will find prices like $42.37 next to something marked $37.84. What’s that all about? You will find a similar approach to pricing at this store when the sale price is literally 1/3 off the original. I am talking 33.333 percent off, and $36.84 now becomes $24.68.

8 ) Other pet peeves you might want to consider: hard to read print ads, a dirty store, and hand written display signs.

These are just some items that have been bothering me for awhile. If I missed anything that bugs you, shoot me a quick email and I’ll update my list.

Ritchie Sayner is Vice President of Business Development for RMSA Retail Solutions. Contact Mr. Sayner at or 816-505-7912.