Seeing Your Store as a Customer Would

Do you have “consumer” eyes or “retailer” eyes?


Curious what the difference is?

As a consumer, you view and react to retail spaces much more subjectively and selfishly… which is absolutely okay. After all, you are a consumer so it’s all about ” you”. And let’s not forget… chances are it’s your own money you are deciding to spend or not.

As a retailer, you view and react to retail spaces from an operational perspective and while often you consider how your customers may respond to it, it’s typical to still be selfish and subjective in your retail behavior, as well. After all, you have to do the displays, clean the shelves, stock the tables, etc., etc. You have a long list of work to get done in order for your store to come to life… so short cuts may happen… right? Or maybe not. Every retailer has their own habits, after all.

Here’s a thought, though… What would happen if you walked through your own store as a consumer and forgot about all those extra details you know about and have to care about as a retailer? In other words… forget the work involved, forget the dust that may be accumulating, forget the cost of each signage or display piece, forget the corner spot you worked so hard on and never see anyone go to… you get the idea.

How try and do this without too much emotion. We know it’s your store… but how can you react to it from a customer’s perspective if you are sentimental about it from your own perspective? Truly try and remove yourself as invested in your business, but rather take on the role of a consumer fast and furiously. Be just as assertive or quick to judge or simply pass something by as you would if you were a consumer in any other store… minus all that retail knowledge you may have. Ignore things that look bad, take notice of things that look good and experience your store as a real customer would. Now do this exercise again, except this time take clear notes on your entire experience. Identify the following:

1. What strikes you as most appealing in your store? Why? 

2. What strikes you as least appealing? Why? 

3. Are there any distractions in your store that take away from you shopping or wanting to browse the store – whether people, noise, displays or anything else? 

4. What did it feel like when you first entered the store? Explain your emotional reaction, such as “welcoming”, “claustrophobic”, “engaging”, “distracting” or anything else you may feel. 

5. What items look out of place? 

6. What items stand out the most and why? 

7. What items strike you as should be “on sale” or completely removed from the store assortment? 

8. Are there any items you don’t see but would make sense with your current assortment? 

9. How do the displays lend themselves to you engaging as a customer? 

10. What merchandising areas are easy and welcoming to shop? 

11. Which ones are not easy or welcoming to shop? 

12. Is the store clean – including dusted? 

13. What impression does your store restroom give off as a customer observing it? 

14. Is your cash wrap area easy for customers to rest their purse, sign a receipt and enjoy their check out experience? 

15. Do your walls need a fresh coat of paint? 

16. Are there visible areas of your store that look un-kept or need any repair? 

17. Do your fixtures overpower your inventory or restrict customers from shopping and engaging with your items? 

18. How does your store signage measure up? Is it easy to identify what is on sale, store policies, special announcements and more? 

19. Does your stock room trickle onto your selling floor? 

20. What is your ultimate, final impression of your store after experiencing it as a customer? 

Often, this exercise opens up retailers eyes and brings things to light they have been ignoring. Other times they still only see what they want to – and ignore what they want. Of course, there are many retailers who are doing well and doing it right, so this exercise isn’t necessary. But reminding yourself to wear your customer’s shoes and view things as they do is a great practice to routinely participate in. Asking store associates and trusted allies can also bring things to your attention that you may not notice otherwise. In the end, you will gain a stronger understanding of your store and your customer – two strengths in delivering outstanding experiences and gaining sales for your store!

Want to really help your store help your customers? Check out Retail Minded Magazine! Gain in depth, expert support to help you manage your retail business! 


Photo Credit: Retail Minded | Winter Park, Florida 



  • Francesca Nicasio
    May 22, 2014

    Merchants are often too close to their business which is why it’s easy to automatically slip on the “retail googles” instead of seeing a store through a customer’s eyes. This post gives retailers an excellent reminder to step back and be more objective when evaluating their store.

    And just so you know, we included it in our roundup of top retail posts this week. 🙂

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