4 Retail Mistakes That Will Stop a Customer From Coming Back

by Emma Leuman | Mar 25, 2020 1:23:23 PM

There is more than enough content telling you what to do as a retailer. Ebooks are sold, blog posts are written (ahem), podcasts are recorded, and webinars are held all with the express interest of persuading you that there is yet another thing that you need to add to your to-do list. Would you believe me if I told you that none of these new concepts would dramatically change your business?

Instead of adding another worry to your plate, what if you tried tweaking the processes and policies that you already have in place?

Many traditional retail practices are out of date, so much so that they can actually convince customers that they should be shopping elsewhere. Start pushing your business into the future by eliminating common retail mistakes from your repertoire.


4 Common Retail Mistakes That Will Stop a Customer From Coming Back

Undertraining entry-level employees

Over the last few decades, entry-level retail jobs have been an easy way for high school and college students to make extra cash. The flexible schedules and employee discounts that came with these positions were a draw for a younger crowd, and employers were able to bring on employees for a relatively inexpensive rate, even if they were a bit inexperienced. These entry-level retail jobs were responsible for basic tasks like stocking, date checking, and light customer service – nothing that required too much time or training.

Today, the world of retail looks a bit different. Customers are craving an experience each time they enter a brick-and-mortar store, as they’re giving up the convenience of e-commerce to walk through your doors. They expect to be wowed by the aesthetic of your store, as well as the service they receive from your employees. If you’re still stuck in a mindset that tells you entry-level employees need only basic professional education, you’ll fall behind.

Customers expect your employees to have a relatively deep knowledge of the products within your store – no matter if they are entry-level or not. Employees at every stage in the company need to be given adequate training so that they can answer any customer question, and go above and beyond to give them the personalized experience that they’re looking for.

In addition to the benefits of training on customer experience, employees who are well-trained will also feel that they have more purpose within their company. When you teach employees the reason behind each of their responsibilities, they understand the impact that they can have in a day’s work, and will be more motivated to do their jobs well.


Forcing employees to be overly attentive

Have you ever gone to a store, hoping to make a quick trip, and been sidelined by an employee who won’t stop bothering you? Whether they’re trying to sell you something, or just won’t pick up on your body language or subtle hints, it can be a frustrating, and ultimately annoying, experience.

From a retailer’s perspective, it makes sense to require your employees to interact with customers as they enter the store, and if they look like they may need assistance. Where this attentiveness goes wrong is when managers require employees to have an excessive amount of touchpoints with customers. While profits are important, and employees have the skills to make or break a sale from a simple interaction, the overall customer experience is much more valuable.

Customer loyalty should be your chief concern as a retailer today, and providing an exceptional experience is key to attaining it. When you force your employees to be overbearing, following customers around the store, offering help over and over even when it’s clear that the customer does not want to be interacted with, you (and your brand) lose your luster. It only takes one poor experience for a customer to decide that they never want to come back. Every visit is like another first impression – use it wisely.


Giving customers confusing pricing information

What may trump experience for your customers as the most important consideration when choosing where to shop? Price.

If you just nodded in agreement, we’re on the same page. Your customers wants to make sure they’re getting the best deal possible when they come into your store. Consumers are savvier than ever before, typically researching a purchase online before coming into the store to make the final decision. They’re counting on you to make that end result seamless and worth it to them, financially and otherwise.

Now, imagine this scenario: a customer brings an item to the register in your store. They’ve been pondering the decision for awhile, either in the aisle or before they even got to your location. They’ve finally decided to purchase, and they are ready to check out.

But something stops them. The cashier is unable to determine the item’s price, your POS system is returning an error, the item was labeled wrong, or maybe the item wasn’t labeled with a price at all. Not only have you now lost the convenience factor that may help your store compete with the e-commerce crowd, you’ve also frustrated the customer.

Pricing information should not be confusing. As one of the most critical determinants of whether or not a customer will purchase your product, the price should be clear and accurate every time. Your customers expect this, and, if they run into issues, they may not risk coming back to your store.


Having an excess amount of out of stocks

As a retailer, one of your responsibilities is purchasing inventory for your store (or at least overseeing the employee who manages this task!). You know how important it is to buy the right products, to ensure that you are using purchasing trends to choose the right quantities, and that you’re maintaining the integrity of your shelves throughout the store.

What you may not know is that your customers notice when your team gets a little lax. Here’s why: customers become loyal to your store if you are able to provide them with a specific item that will keep them coming back. For example, if you carry a customer’s favorite brand of peanut butter, and they’re able to get it every time they shop at your store, they’ll probably return.

However, if that customer gets used to buying that peanut butter at your store, then comes in to restock his supply, and sees that the brand is out of stock, he’s going to start questioning whether you should be his go-to grocer. If it happens again, you can bet that he’ll be looking for his peanut butter at a different store next time – and he probably won’t come back once he finds it.

Think about the effect that this situation could have on your store if you have a large-scale out of stock problem. Your once-loyal customers could be driven from your locations by the promise of fully-stocked shelves elsewhere.

When you’re considering what you should prioritize for your store in the coming year, contemplate whether you could fix a few of the mistakes that you’re currently making instead of adding something new onto your to-do list. Making these simple adjustments could help you maintain your customers’ loyalty, and provide them with an experience that will keep them coming back.


Customers will be looking for more than ever from their grocer in 2020. Click below to download our eBook and learn what initiatives you can put in place in order to earn their loyalty and keep them coming back.

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