Why We Go To Stores

By Blackdog - 6 years ago


What do you wear to attend a wedding? If it’s happening in March and you have freak snow (thanks #BeastFromTheEast), making a decision could be trickier than you think.

I found myself in this predicament recently where I had in my mind’s eye the exact shirt that would be perfect for such an occasion. Comfortable yet smart, classic yet modern, perhaps with a pocket and neat sleeves and thick enough to weather the snow storm.

I searched for such parameters at my usual go-to online store and do you know what I got?

Nothing. Nada.

As clever as AI is, it’s not quite clever enough to understand the ramblings of a slightly shop-aphobic male who knows what he wants but doesn’t have the inclination to look for it.

I then try another site and receive 24 pages (24!) of something that looks slightly akin to a white shirt, but that’s missing many of my fundamental items; the pocket, the classic look, and so on.

So I did what we all do when we’re really in need, I went shopping. To a real store.

Within the first shop I encountered a store assistant (that’s a human, not a robot, for anyone reading this in the future), who helped me pull out three shirts that looked along the right lines. The third, I deemed perfect, but curious I thought I’d try one size down.

It was too small but at least I’d had the option. Had I ordered online, I may have faced another 24-hour wait to realise the one I’d tried first was perfect, plus the hassle of sending back any incorrect items.

The point of this tale, is that online shopping is great, but there is still a place for shoppers who want to tell someone what they’re looking for, in their own words. They want to use descriptions that feel familiar, scenarios that are real and events that are personal. Not keywords and tick boxes which are about as personal as a piece of junk mail. And the oldest trick in the book, being told how you look great or how something suits you, sir.

Some experiences in store may be mundane and that’s fine. We don’t always want to be blown away. But others need to be life changing. The type you go and tell people about, the store assistants that you take the time to write to head office about.

Because the real beauty of the physical retail store is that it makes the shopper feel like it understands them. You can do this online but only to a degree. Convenience is great but service is often about real people.

    The more we can make the staff, positioning, signage and products in retail stores listen to the shopper, the more they will continue to go there.