Do you buy online? Retailers say they don’t like it when you do this. But here’s why we do it.

Look after your 'on feet' customers

Well I should really change the heading to: These are my experiences as to WHY I buy online whenever able.

The only things that I don’t really like buying online are shoes and clothing. The first is obvious. There are so many different ‘sizes’ in shoes. Whereas once upon a time I knew that a size 6 1/2 (* you can’t get many 1/2 sizes now ), in a boot, was a 6 1/2 size. That it would be relatively wide and with a toe that was either square or round as depicted on the picture. But now (I have moved up to a size 7 although I swear on the cup cakes I am about to make, my feet have not grown one iota since they stopped at 6 1/2 many years ago) the sizes are all different, the shapes tend to be for a much narrower foot and the colour isn’t always what it seems when compared in real life. Plus you never know which country you are buying it from or indeed where it was made!

Clothing is very similar to above. They say the size is M or L but you then see comments from people who have given their feedback – bless them for taking the time to do this – and more often they say the size is bigger(smaller) than stated and that they wouldn’t buy it again. I then wonder, do I really want to be this person who also is disgruntled because the sizing isn’t what it says it is? No I don’t and so yes I will venture into a clothing shop, swing 5,6 or 7 items over my forearm, and just as I’m about to fall over with the weight, the shop attendent comes up to me and asks, “Can I hang these up for you?”. No, no I say, and I think to myself, why didn’t you come about three items ago when I was on a roll, and be more supportive?

So, why, after many years of never being able to buy online – because there was no such thing as the INTERNET – and I have been basically happy purchasing from said retail shops, have I decided that I prefer to buy online?
Helpful staff to your customers is like gold
When I go into a shop I expect two things:
One is that I will be given a few minutes – say 5 minutes – to adjust to the layout of the shop. It gives me time to change direction after walking in and realising I am in the young girls/teenagers area- when I am obviously not of that age – but it’s quite good to pretend you are buying for your child if you make this mistake (even though I have three sons , and a grandson, with no doubt the second grandchild ‘cooking’ at the moment also going to be another male! – UPDATE yes another grandson!) I can’t really feign I am buying for a ‘girl’ of any type!! and secondly,
I expect the employee or sometimes owner, to have some idea of what is in their shop, or at least go to the computer and punch in some information to show that they are at least trying!
I went into a shop that sold items covering cushions, cushion covers, towels, sheets – yes a bedroom/bathroom accessory shop. It had only recently moved to it’s new ‘prime’ position and was quite a large shop so I felt quite enthusiastic that I would find what I was looking for. I had even been given a heads up that this shop was THE ONE and would definitely have what I required!
So light of foot I launched into the shop and went straight towards an area that I thought might have what I needed. After about 5 (or so) minutes – my magic time as mentioned above – I still hadn’t found what I wanted. Oh, sorry – what I wanted was a 40 x 40 cm cushion cover. I had a colour in mind but as I was soon to find out it really didn’t matter what colour I was looking for.

As the only employee available was busying herself filling up a shelf and I’d say her manager had tasked her to do this as she seemed oblivious to the fact that she had any customers in the shop – anyone else reading this find this happens a lot? Put your hands up – like the shelf is much more important than the person WANTING to spend money in the shop (that guess what?? pays your wages!!) – I approached her and asked the question, explaining the size I was looking for. Oh and about a 1/4 of the shop was designated to cushions by the way….

She looked at me and said, “Oh, I don’t know”, to which I responded, “Is there someone else here you could ask?”, to which she said, “Oh yes, I’ll do that”. She wandered off, had a quick conversation and said, “Sorry no we don’t have any of those”. I looked at her with the blankest face I could find in my repertoire, and believe me I have a few, and I said, “That’s okay I’ll just have a look around”.

I took about ten steps towards a bunch of cushions nestled in the far corner of the shop. I looked left and then right, then down left and down right, and there on the bottom left shelf lying on their edge were a bunch of cushion covers…….. and guess what? On the information card was the actual size of the said covers – 40 x 40 cm!! Now you can imagine what ‘face’ I had on when I found them – really? Here is me, a customer that has never been in this particular shop before, finding an item that I had just been told does not exist in this shop. How does that happen??

Surely to god, this person, who spends around 8 hours a day, probably 5-6 days a week, would know nearly every inch of this store – or at least the manager would know – OR at least they could check their stock on the computer! I was a customer who wanted – I mean really wanted – to spend money in this shop. Is business so good that you can treat customers like this? The shop was not busy. There were probably two people in the shop. There was no excuse; or was there?
Cushy jobs for some
Do managers actually train their staff that the customer is the most precious commodity in their shop? That the goods not yet stacked on the shelves can wait; that the computer sitting pretty next to the eftpos machine is often the best way to get the eftpos machine to be used more often?

I will be writing another blog on my numerous thoughts on staff who work in retail shops……

Oh, did you want to know what happened in the end with my cushion-cover-purchasing?
I picked up one and walked towards the counter. It was not really the colour I wanted but hey I thought I could make it work. Just before I got to the counter, a ‘cushion’ caught my eye, it was the perfect colour and it was on special so I bought two contrasting cushions, and with those in my arms and the ‘cushion cover’ I placed them in front of the employee. Yes! I found these ones

I then told her that, guess what your shop DOES have 40 x 40 cm cushion covers, so next time someone comes in you can point them to that area there – I pointed out the area – but, I don’t want this one now as I found these cushions which will work just fine! She looked at me, took the cushion covers and didn’t say a thing – no,”Thank you so much for doing my job and finding them so easily and quickly”, or, “Hey that’s great. Next time someone comes in I’ll be able to be more knowledgeable about the shop I work in 8 hours a day, 5-6 days a week!” Nope, nothing; she gave me nothing!

So to ALL the shop owners who are upset at people purchasing online – read the above again.

Where are my customers

Where have all the customers gone?

I probably could have taken half the time to find them online from somewhere overseas. My blood pressure may have been more even throughout the whole process and my expectations of people who work in a retail shop being so helpful and interested in helping you, would still remain true.

This is not a one off when visiting a retail shop. More ‘fun’ stories to follow – oh and I would love to hear yours – positive or negative!

Make every customer you have a loyal customer


  1. Michael

    So I had a former customer email me yesterday for advice on a purchase he made from me 17 years ago. In an industry I don’t work in now.
    My customer service must have been OK.
    I got his info and emailed him back.
    I note that I didn’t get an email back thanking me though …
    Perhaps I should bill him for my time …
    Be nice to the good shop owners I say. There were a few of us.

    1. Post

      Thanks Michael. Yes, I agree be nice to the good shop owners. The way that I am nice to them is by returning to their shop and giving them my business (only a handful mind you), as the ‘good’ shop owners are harder and harder to find. I’ll stick to online shopping for the main part!
      Going back 17 years is where shop workers looked after their customers. I’d love to hear from more shop keepers who were/are like this! 🙂

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