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4 Ways to Create a Quick and Insightful Shopping Experience

Reading Time: 5 minutes

A week ago we discussed the 3 steps retailers need to take in order to win against Amazon.  One of those steps was creating a good shopping experience by making it quick and educational for the customer.  But how does one go about completing such a feat?  That’s exactly what we will discuss today.

Ask yourself this question, If someone wants to give you directions to two shoe stores, one path is easy and one is hard, which path do you choose?  Imagine nothing else is different about the shoe stores, or the path.  I can’t imagine why anyone would choose the more difficult path, unless they were unwise, or didn’t read the part that said they are the exact same.  Over the next several sections ask yourself, am I making it easier, or harder for my customers to shop?

Step 1: Ergonomics and Floor Plans

Some of my favorite memories growing up were of my dad and me, going to my Uncle Peewee’s corner grocery store.  It was my dad’s favorite hangout, so we went there all the time.  Even though most of the time we didn’t really need anything.  My dad actually grew up in the floor above it.  It was your typical grid-floor plan but there were still shelves on each of the walls. Whenever we would get bread, it was always in the front, but if we wanted hotdogs or hamburgers, we had to get it from the back.  My dad always told me that was because they wanted you to have to go through the entire store.  On your way, you might pick up extra items and purchase more things.  I’m not here to say merchandising is not important, quite the opposite.  I’m just saying that in order to stay competitive with Amazon, do it with convenience and speed in mind.  Each of your stores may be different, so it’s hard for me to tell you what’s the best plan for you, but if you ever want to message me, we can talk more.  What I can say though is to watch your customers.  If you see more than two people a day that walkout due to lack of service and long lines, you may have an issue. 

Step 2: Signage

Earlier we spoke about the two shoe stores and the different paths you could take.  If you were going to one or the other, would you rather the one with easy to see street signs, or would you rather guess what road you’re on when you turn? This same question holds true inside your store.  While there are many types of signage that can be of great benefit to your shoe store, today we are just going to talk about Informational signage. Clear directions can help your business create a quick and insightful shopping experience, elevate customer loyalty and increase your chances of staying competitive with Amazon.  In order to make sure your Informational signage has the greatest impact there are three simple rules to follow.

  1. Keep it Simple: Less is more! The more words and complications to your sign, the less value.
  2. Be specific: Don’t have a vague sign that doesn’t make sense unless they must talk to one of your clerks. That would defeat the purpose.
  3. Have a call to action: What is the intended goal of your informational signage? Is it to sign up for your loyalty plan? How about a buy 1 pair get the 2nd pair ½ off?

Step 3: Self Service Kiosks, Buy Online Pick Up in Store, and Mobile Check Out

My Mother-In-Law is a fantastic woman, and she cares a great deal for everyone around her.  Unfortunately, she is terrible when it comes to technology.  One of her favorite things to do is give me step by step directions on how to get somewhere, even if I have already mentioned I am using GPS.  Have you ever been on either side of this story?  Well then, consider Self Service Kiosks, BOPUS, and Mobile Check Out to be the GPS of the shopping experience.  Please note, that not all customers of all generations have adapted to this new shopping experience.  But in a world where your customer wants to buy the way Amazon and Walmart allow them to buy, can you really afford to not give in?  Remember though, the ROI from these investments is severely reduced, without the proper floor plan and signage.

Step 4: POS optimized for speedy checkout

In football, there is an area of the field called the Red Zone.  This is the area of the field between your opponent’s end zone and the twenty-yard line.  It is completely possible to have a 1,000-yard game without actually scoring a touchdown.  Let’s consider the checkout line in your shoe store is the red zone.  You can have the best floor plan, the best signage, and an easy to use self-service loyalty kiosk and still fail to score because of a slow check out experience.  Most of your customers will only remember that last twenty yards, so make sure it’s quick, insightful, and memorable.  So, what are some simple ways to accomplish this?

  1. Automated discounts based on customer categories or promotional pricing: if the sign said buy 2 get 1 free but your clerk failed to ring it up that way, this will slow down your line. And may result in an unhappy shopping experience.
  2. Using your POS’s internal email system to keep sales people informed of promos and new products.
  3. Quick Chip: This is a significantly faster way to take EMV. Most customers don’t care that EMV is a mandate, they care how long they are in line so make it faster.
  4. Omni Directional Bar Code Scanner: This scanner shoots the beams in multiple directions rather than a handheld one that only shoots one laser. This will reduce the number of times you have to flatten the label prior to scanning.
  5. IPADs for your sales reps, why have them go to a counter at all when their sales rep can do so after trying them on?

My Two Cents

I know that by doing just these 3 things you are on your way to creating a quick and insightful shopping experience.  In reality, each one of these can be an article in and of itself, but that just leaves more room for later, right?  Only you will know what’s going to be the most beneficial for your store.  Just remember though that you’re not alone.  You can always reach out to me and I will do my best to uncover what your specific needs may be for your business.  I do these consultations all the time, and I do them at no cost to you.  If you would like, feel free to share your ideas with me.  More than likely one of my clients has tried it before and we can learn from their mistakes together.


Mark Nelms is a Business Development Manager for Soft Intelligence.  He has conducted over 400 interviews with retailers from almost every vertical and size.  In prior roles, he’s assisted clients like Cumberland Packaging Corporation (Sweet N’ Low), The New England Patriots, and NCR (National Cash Register.)