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Clean Up On Aisle 9 — Is the State of Your Store Turning Away Customers?

There’s a folksy saying that if you go long enough without a bath, even the fleas will leave you alone. The same can me said about how customers will react to a store that lacks cleanliness and organization.

A new report from ServiceChannel reveals that the “basics” count when it comes to keeping consumers shopping in physical stores. The study, “The State of Brick and Mortar Retail Report,” found that retailers who have not proactively invested in their physical presence leave themselves prone to disappointing in-store experiences and bad business consequences. The report focused on what causes customers to not return to a retail location, and found that 64% have left a store because of its physical appearance or disorganization. Moreover, 52% will leave without making a purchase.

With retailers fighting for customers with online retailers, a single bad experience, such as a messy bathroom, a broken shelf or even a burned out light bulb, can cost brand loyalty and repeat purchases, according to the study. Forty percent of shoppers said they will spend less money and time in a store if they’ve had such a negative experience, and 69% are more likely to shop at a competitor after a similar negative in-store experience.

Cleanliness affects the entire shopping process. People will always prefer a cleaner retail store over a dirty one, but sometimes the level of cleanliness can have an affect they do not even realize. First impressions are developed the moment customers walk through the doors—and sometimes before that. A neat and organized store can be the inviting element that gets the shopping process moving.

Additional key findings from the report include:

• Messy stores contribute heavily to negative experiences. Issues such as dirty bathrooms, messy floors, cluttered shelves, and or even poor parking lots have an outsized effect, especially with female shoppers.

• Stores should be shoppable before experiential. Two out of five shoppers reported encountering empty shelves or struggled with disorganized inventory.

• Retailers need to handle the basics before going high tech. Four out of five shoppers would rather have a clean store than one that prioritizes tech. The most important tech for shoppers today are relatively simple capabilities like Wifi and mobile app integration.

“Great retailers today understand that you need a great product, a great brand, and a great in-store experience. It’s and, not or,” said Tom Buiocchi, CEO of ServiceChannel. “Just think of the brands you visit over and over again – they get it – and growing retailers today understand that there are billions of dollars at stake and how valuable their physical locations and experiences are.”