October 25


Retail 101 – Shopper Behavior

By Jana Hassett

October 25, 2020

Small Business

Retail 101 – Shopper Behavior.

Shopper Behavior. What does that mean?

It means as a shop owner you should shop the competition as often as you can carve out time to do so.  It’s good to get out and visit other stores in other towns to see what they are doing in today’s retail world, and how their shoppers are behaving.

Nevada Shoppers

Tracy had a Silversmith class to teach in Las Vegas.  I went along for moral support and to shop the competition.  I’m in the process of revising my studio and need a lateral file (no they don’t make them anymore). So I started my adventure at IKEA.  The store in Vegas is larger than the one in Draper, Utah.  But the pathway through and the main merchandise offerings are the same.  They have a larger home décor section and a discount – make it go away- department.  They did display a matching shelving/file drawer unit to the glass door bookcase I got in Draper but it was out of stock. And they weren’t offering any lateral files either. Nice try!

I went to two other “chain stores” and found they had pretty much the same offerings as our local stores, but they were larger in sq. footage and thus had more to offer. All the big stores had one thing in common, a sign that said “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Mask, No Service” in big, bold letters. Shopper behavior matched the signage. It was clear what was expected of shoppers.

Shoppers for Solopreneurs

Then I ventured into several solopreneur stores in different parts of Henderson.  Everyone in the store was wearing masks.  I spent the most time in “Sin City Yarn Shop”, and spent the most money there.

Their prices were about the same as our yarn stores in Utah.  They offered classes, ball winding, and a place to “hand out and knit/crochet” if you wanted to.  The other small stores were about the same – clean, good signage, a discount/close-out section, and friendly/helpful owners.

And they all had the same signage on their front entrances – “Please wear a mask when visiting my store.  If you don’t have one, I’ll be happy to give you one.  Please help small stores stay open by supporting our requirements.  If you can’t, I’ll be happy to help you with a phone order and curbside pickup, but masks are required.”

No one complained, and those that were in stores wore masks.  Only one of the bigbox stores had an enforcement officer at the entrance.  She invited visitors to put on a mask or come back at a future date and time. No one said no while I was watching.  Why not?  Because shopper behavior was clearly stated and enforced. 

Shopper Behavior Signage

When shop keepers don’t provide guidance as to what they expect from shoppers they ask for problems. Lots of small stores with expensive and/or unique merchandise have signs about parents are responsible for their childrens’ behavior. In times past, it was not unusual to see signs that said “You break it, you buy it”.  It was very clear what was expected.

Some shoppers are insulted by those types of signs, but they need to remember that they are “guests” of the owners.  These are not public buildings.  Recently our local Walmart has posted signs and are enforcing no soliciting on their property. It is private and you need their permission to sell your puppies, etc. there.  Respect for the rights of shop keepers, no matter how large, is important. But so is proper signage.

And don’t ignore the need for the same type of signage in your online store.

  •  How long can I keep merchandise in my shopping cart?  
  • What is your return policy, if you have one.
  • Do you sell my personal information?
  •  Do you do custom orders if I don’t see what I want?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Where are you located/based out of?
  • What other rules/expectations do you have?

Be clear. Be fair. Be Kind.  The sign on one small shop tugged at my heartstrings. 

“Please wear a mask and use the hand sanitizer provided as you enter.  This business provides for my family and 6 other families and we cannot afford to have it closed.  We value you as a customer and hope you value us.”

Until next time - - -

Jana Hassett

About the author

Retired Congressional Aide, Coach, Mentor and Grant Writer, Jana advocates for everyone having an elevator speech. She currently serves as Business Coach for the Ms. Biz program at the Women's Business Center of Utah, Cedar City. She's been writing blogs since 2006 and enjoys journaling.
"Passing It On" is her WHY, in honor of all those that mentored and guided her journery over the years.

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