Competing in the world of retailing is challenging. Why make things harder for yourself? That’s what you may be doing if your store is guilty of one or more of the following “retail turnoffs.” Any one of them can be enough to drive customers away from your store, never to return.

Here are the top 8 turnoffs for retailing:

Retail Turnoff #1: Messy entrance.

Your store entrance may open to an outdoor space that’s maintained by the landlord. However, it’s still up to you to keep an eye on the immediate area in between maintenance visits. Sweep up trash; keep your display windows clean; and put safety cones around for puddles, snowdrifts or other remnants of bad weather that could make it hard for customers to enter your store.

Retail Turnoff #2: Dirty store

No one wants to shop in a store where they’re afraid to touch anything. Over 90 percent of consumers in one Harris poll refuse to ever return to a business if it smells bad (78 percent), has dirty restrooms (66 percent) or has dirty surfaces (65 percent).  Create a regular maintenance schedule your staff can follow to ensure your store is always sparkling clean. 

Retail Turnoff #3: Unhelpful sales associates.

While most shoppers dislike being pestered, they do want to be able to get help when they need it. Unfortunately, about four in 10 shoppers say they often have difficulty finding a salesperson in a retail store, according to a poll by MindTree. The same survey found customers who do talk to a salesperson are 43 percent more likely to buy something; they also spend 81 percent more than shoppers who don’t receive any assistance. Train your sales team to be attentive without being pushy.

Of course, talking to shoppers doesn’t help if your salespeople can’t answer customers’ questions. Today’s shoppers conduct lots of research online before they visit a store, so they’re often extremely well informed before they buy. Educate your salespeople in the features and benefits of your products; consider equipping them with tablets so they can quickly look up product information if they don’t know something.

Retail Turnoff #4: Not answering the phone.

Big retail websites now enable shoppers to check whether a product is available at a store near them before they make a trip to the mall. Shoppers can’t do that with your store, but they can call ahead to see if you’ve got the product in the color or size they want. If you don’t answer the phone, you’re missing out on possible sales. Yet almost two-thirds (62 percent) of phone calls to small businesses are never answered, reports 411 Locals. Make answering the phone a priority for your salespeople; if they do miss a call, have them respond to voice mails right away. It could make the difference between a customer going to your store or your competitor’s.  

Retail Turnoff #5: Slow service.

No one wants to wait in a long checkout line. Millennials are especially impatient, ranking “ease of checkout” as highly important in PWC’s Total Retail Survey 2016. When the Millennial generation does visit a physical store, it’s often because they want the product right now. Meanwhile, a TimeTrade survey found that 80 percent of customers refuse to wait longer than 5 minutes for service. Adequate staffing and mobile checkout options on tablets or smartphones can help you speed things up.

Retail Turnoff #6: Poor reviews.

According to a BrightLocal survey, 91 percent of consumers read online reviews either regularly or occasionally; 50 percent read them regularly. Google is also placing more emphasis on online reviews, frequently displaying them as part of search results. Seventy-four percent of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a business more; 87 percent say they require a rating of 3 to 5 stars before they will shop with a business. Many small business owners fear ratings and review sites will lead to negative reviews that harm their reputation, but the real risk is in not showing up on review sites at all. If you have no reviews or very few of them, customers are less likely to visit your business, the study found. Claim your business listing on ratings and review sites, and monitor your reviews regularly to make sure they’re positive ones.  

Retail Turnoff #7: No in-store Wi-Fi.

This is a major turnoff for lots of customers, but especially for Millennials. After all, 80 percent of the Millennials in PwC’s survey use their smartphones in stores. Whether they’re looking up product details, reading reviews or sharing dressing-room selfies with a friend, Wi-Fi is a must. Protect your data security by setting up a special guest Wi-Fi network (no password required) so shoppers can get online easily without putting your business network at risk.

Retail Turnoff #8: Lack of inventory.

Not having the right sizes, colors or product choices is a huge turnoff for customers. After all, one reason customers visit brick-and-mortar stores is to get the product in-hand immediately. Even offering to special-order the product isn’t enough: If a customer can’t walk out with the product and has to place an order, they might as well buy from Amazon. Implement inventory management software that makes it easy to track what’s on hand. If you run out of an advertised product, alert customers via your website so you can prevent as many fruitless trips as possible. 

cashier and customer