What Does Your Body Language Say?

Retailers are constantly trying to identify what their customers are thinking by the way they act. If they pick up an item, does that mean they want? If they browse your store really fast, does that mean they don’t like it? If they never make eye contact, does that mean you shouldn’t continue talking to them???

The list of questions that pertain to how customers act in your store is endless. But a list you can control is how you and your employees act in your store. To get started, ask yourself and your team the following:


1. Do you make eye contact with every customer – even if they come in with a group of people? 

2. Do you always – without any exceptions – stop what you are doing to greet your customers? 

3. Do you immediately return to a store operational task (that does not involve customer service) after greeting your customers? 

4. Do you appear disturbed / interrupted / frustrated when a customer asks you a question for any reason at all? 

5. Do you respond to all inquiries with ease, eliminating any frustrations or disappointments you may be feeling? 

6. Do you act equally to all your customers – not just your paying ones? 

7. Do you (even if unintentionally) ever roll your eyes at a customer? 

8. Do you rush through any customer service procedures due to your own personal judgement / feelings / predictions? 

9. Do you respond in a friendly manner through your actions? 

10. Do you appear closed off and unapproachable for any reason at all? 

Now if you are like most people, you may not be a good judge on yourself. It often takes an outside observer to really identify just how you act. With this in mind, consider your next store meeting to be focused on how your team interacts with customers… without ever saying a word. Customers respond to your actions – or lack of them – and make judgement on your store team as a result (like it or not). We’ve all heard the expression “She looks like a (fill in the blank here)” and in the case of retail, you want that blank only to pertain to positive attributes. If it’s not, it’s time to do some role playing to help strengthen the “appearance” of your actions.

Body Language Pointers That Help Retail Sales 

Ready to amplify your body language to help amplify your sales? Consider these pointers:

1. Stand Openly. Appearing closed off is a signal that you do not welcome or want to be approached. For retail, this is especially important. Get out from behind your cash wrap or desk, avoid crossing your arms or leaning on something, and stand up straight and tall. A slouch screams lazy and unwelcoming.

2. Use Positive Facial Expressions. A raise of an eyebrow, a little smile, a simple nod of the head… these all communicate that you are listening to someone as they speak to you and offer them a sense of comfort that you are both engaged and care.

3. Avoid Dominant Gestures. Anything too extreme in your body language can scare a customer off. Remember to respect their personal space, even when helping them up closely in whatever you may be selling. Additionally, don’t move your mouth (bite on lip, etc.) as a customer is speaking with you, as this sends the signal you are ready for them to hurry up and that you want to move on. It’s distracting for them, as well, which is never ideal. Finally, don’t stare. Eye contact is important, but it’s more natural to have some “breaks” while looking at someone while you talk – or for that matter, while you aren’t talking.

Your store can be beautiful and your product can be outstanding, however if your team’s body language is not welcoming, it won’t matter at all.


Want more customer service and employee tips? Check out these top Retail Minded articles. 

3 Tips to Understanding Consumer Purchasing Decisions 

3 Old Fashioned Tips for Strong Customer Service

Do Your Store Operations Take Over Your Sales?  

Ready to gain even more support for your store? Retail Minded Magazine takes a more in depth approach to everything retail! Learn more here!




  • Sinay
    February 26, 2013

    Hi Nicole,

    I arrived at this page because I’m interested in body language in general, not because I’m a retailer (: but I found it interesting to think about it from the seller’s point of view, not the costumer.
    As a costumer 2 main “bad” behaviors that can really turn me off when I’m browsing a store are:
    1) It’s the too eager seller who follows me around – I feel like I’m been stalked when I’m merely wish to look at things around – without any additional help.
    2) the more common “I’m too busy – don’t bother me” – I get this kind of attitude a lot from store employees, but I think it’s kinda natural, because they don’t have any incentive being nice to me.

    Anyway, nice post, keep it up!

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