There are a couple of theories out there that tell a lot about a store and how it’s run: 1) If your bathroom is a mess then your store is too; and 2) If your shopping carts are dirty or wet then our store is poorly run.
We don't make this stuff up. We’ve heard customers say these things over and over and over again, too many times to count, since we began doing consumer focus groups way back in the early 90s. You might be doing great things in other parts of the store, but dissing the details will come back to haunt you every time.
Take for example, the department store located in an upscale mall in suburban Chicago. The store isn’t too bad, but its ladies room is a mess, and it’s been that way for a long, long time. The store manager knows it’s awful because customers complain about it every day. It’s attached to the store’s hair salon, where customers who spend $100 + to get their hair done, can then spend quality time in a restroom that’s one step above a port-a-potty. Actually, it’s not as nice as the port-a-potty’s we’ve seen at ball games as of late.
This store is a frequent topic of conversation among clients in the salon – this bad word of mouth can’t be good for business. It’s an easy fix: paint it, repair or replace what’s broken, make it brighter, and clean it more frequently. How hard is that? We know retailers who redecorate their restrooms every six months because they know their reputation as a retailer is being judged by every customer who use them.
The condition of your shopping carts is another favorite topic among customers. Make a point to clean them when they get dirty, dry them off when it’s raining, and fix the wheels that refuse to go the way they are supposed to go.
Kroger grocery stores are now even providing anti-bacterial wipes near their shopping carts. Kroger spokesperson Meghan Glynn said, "It's very popular with many customers. You grab it, you wipe down the cart and you dispose of it. Customers tell us they appreciate it's there. It doesn't require a lot of effort."
That about sums it up: It doesn’t require a lot of effort. But it does require attention to detail. You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again: Retail’s in the details.