Following on from yesterday’s topic of what makes a great meal out, today I’ve been thinking about what makes a great shop? Mum and I popped into the city to do some retail therapy, well that was the plan at least. I didn’t actually buy anything; but I did collect my lovely free sample of Shea Butter Hand Cream from L’Occitane – how on Earth do you pronounce the name of that shop? I think I say it differently every time.
We went into one department store and it was the first time I’d been in there for years. I have to admit to being a little disappointed, as it was a nightmare to get round in a wheelchair. The stock was much too close together and on multiple occasions we had to reverse and go around another way. This drives me nuts! I believe that every shop owner should be forced to go round their store in a wheelchair, just to see the hazards and difficulties that it presents to their disabled customers. Other shoppers, with their sharp elbows and bags, are bad enough; but when shelves, racks and precarious stock is at risk of taking your eye out or just halting progress completely, it makes the whole thing a difficult experience.
Anyone that’s ever been in or pushed a wheelchair will know that they are not the most graceful of things and despite my Mum being a very capable driver in a car, I’m not sure she’d pass her test if it was required for pushing a wheelchair. We’ve removed a fair amount of paint in our time; but when it’s due to a badly arranged shop or a nightmare door I don’t feel too guilty.
When we did manage to get around the shop, I saw that they had so much stock, I wasn’t sure where to look, not in the “oh wow this is so amazing” way; but more in the “my senses are on overload, I feel like I’m looking at a Where’s Wally Puzzle” kind of way. The thing that frustrated me was that there were so many things I know I would have loved, if it had been more spread out and/or better displayed. I understand the logic that they are trying to fit in as many products for as many people as possible; but for me it just didn’t work.
Which brings me to my point, what makes a great shop? One that you walk into and just have to buy something, everything, as much as you can afford. I’ve been into shops like that, where I can’t wait to go back and buy more, somehow it’s set up to sell.
There’s one example that comes to mind. A few months ago Mum and I went to a local Waitrose. Going in, the atmosphere just felt wrong, nothing was in the place you would expect, it was difficult to find anything and the whole shopping experience didn’t seem to flow. It was disjointed and uncomfortable and we didn’t buy very much – great for the bank balance; but not for the shop, or for us, we felt cheated out of a fun shop (I love food shopping, I’m “different” I know).
Just before Christmas we went back again and the whole shop had been refitted and reorganised. The only word for it was WOW! It was like being in a completely different store, the shelves and locations of the food made sense, we were happy to browse the aisles and it was as if we were led from one section to the next and all we wanted to do was pick things up and put them in the trolley. Products seemed to jump off the shelf, begging to be bought, they were even giving out free samples of cake! Seriously how much better can it get?! The cook ware and gifts section was beautiful, colourful and light. Everything was inviting and I wanted to spend money, in the end I had to resist so many things; but I came out feeling happy and satisfied after a really good shop, you know what I mean, you come home smiling, everything feels right with the world.
I think that a great shop has a good lay out, well spaced for wheelchairs (or prams/pushchairs for that matter), it must be light and airy. You need to be able to see what you’re looking at and it needs to be displayed well, in a way that makes you want to reach for a product, not be scared of knocking over the display. There has to be a flow to the shop, products need to be seamlessly arranged from the entrance, drawing you deeper into the shop, like a maze leading you further and further in to the treasures waiting at the centre.
If I’m in a shop, then I’m there to spend money (I hate window shopping, so depressing). I’m there because there’s either something I’m looking for, or I want to treat myself or someone else to something. Give me reasons to buy, encourage me in my decisions, make it easy for me to part with my money, because if you don’t Iwill be leaving empty handed and I won’t be rushing back.