3 tips to maximize 2 shopping experiences

3 tips to maximize 2 shopping experiences

I want to share a recent experience I had when I went to an enclosed shopping mall near where I live in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Despite it being a Saturday afternoon, like many struggling malls today, traffic was light.

I entered the first floor of one of the anchor department stores, which housed the shoe, cosmetics, young women’s fashions and children’s clothes.

As I walked through the cosmetic department, I spotted a table I’d never seen before in this store situated in the middle of the aisle. It was well-dressed with a clean black linen tablecloth and ribbon.

On it was a large carafe filled with iced water that had been generously sprinkled with fresh cut strawberries. Plastic cups were stacked conveniently nearby.

In front of the carafe was a plate full of chocolate chip cookies.

No one was manning the table or hovering nearby. You could simply walk up and help yourself to as many cookies and as much water as you wanted.

It stood café-table height (out of a child’s reach), which suggested it was for adults, giving it a grown-up, girls-day-out vibe.

As I was looking at this table set-up, I noticed that the music playing over the PA was different from what I was used to hearing in this department store on previous visits: It was louder, the songs were modern remixes of old favorites and the songs changed frequently. It dawned on me that it sounded like a party DJ.

Then, I continued to walk through the cosmetics department and, in fact, I spotted a live DJ mixing tunes. This music was specifically for this area of the store. Once I left the first floor, the usual lower-volume, blander music from the PA took over for the other departments.

 

2 APPROACHES THIS RETAILER GOT RIGHT

After seeing these two additions to this store, it struck me that this retailer was doing 2 things correctly:

1. The retailer was offering experiences that connect with women ages 18 to 45 who were in both shopping phases:

They were providing a playful, upbeat experience with catchy, up-tempo tunes spun by a live DJ—which connects with women who are in the shopping phase where they crave a fun, high-energy, interactive shopping experience. (For the sake of this article, we’ll call this the “music” shopping phase.)

They were offering cookies and gourmet iced water at no cost, and with no staff members hovering nearby to make them feel guilty about indulging—which connects with women who are in the shopping phase where they crave an indulgent, low-key, hands-off shopping experience. (For the sake of this article, we’ll call this the “cookie” shopping phase.)

2. The retailer placed these experiences in an area of the store where women between 18 and 45 would naturally come across them: cosmetics, shoes, young women’s fashions and children’s clothing.

Here are my 3 recommendations for maximizing this retailer’s efforts:

1. Move the cookie table further away from the live DJ. The two were spaced only a few feet apart. However, women in the “cookie” shopping phase (who crave an indulgent, low-key, hands-off experience) are more sensitive to loud noise, which they can find off-putting.

So, I would give these cookie phase shoppers ample space to enjoy the free food without having to put up with loud bass-driven music being blared from speakers just feet away.

2. Give the live DJ something to hand out. You can see from the DJ’s empty table that he was there solely to play music. As I walked by, he smiled and nodded his head. I smiled and nodded back. But, it all seemed…a bit uncomfortable.

Why? Because women in both shopping phases respond to social interaction differently. And giving the DJ something to hand out—such as a coupon or flyer announcing a sale—would provide an easy way to appeal to women in both shopping phases.

The reason: Women in the cookie phase tend to prefer a hands-off experience, meaning they don’t enjoy interacting socially if they don’t have to. However, because the live DJ was situated right on one of the walking paths in the store, at some point, the women in the cookie phase would likely pass very close to him, which can make them feel pressured to have to interact with him in some way. If the DJ had an item to hand out, the women in the cookie phase would feel less social pressure—because all social interaction would be laid out for them: receiving the item, then walking away.

Specifically, women in the cookie phase would prefer a coupon or announcement of a current or upcoming sale because their shopping phase has them concerned with saving money.

Women in the “music” phase of their shopping cycle (who crave a fun, high-energy, interactive shopping experience) would also benefit from receiving a hand-out from the DJ. Since they actually enjoy social interaction, this would give them a reason to do so.

Women in this shopping phase also get a mood boost from learning new information, so a hand-out with an announcement or other news or facts would enhance their shopping experience even more.

3. Supply tongs for the cookies and paper cups for the water. Research shows that women in the cookie shopping phase have a heightened fear of germs, so they likely imagine that hands covered in cold and flu viruses have touched all the cookies before they arrived. As a result, they may not take any cookies to avoid getting sick, which would make the effort of connecting with them via free delicious food unsuccessful.

One simple set of tongs on or near the cookie plate would suggest that the cookies are, in fact, germ-free because other shoppers used the sterile tongs to pick them up.

Women in their cookie shopping phase are also more in tune with being environmentally-friendly. They may enjoy the water and cookies, but also feel guilty for using a plastic cup, which can undermine their pleasure. Paper cups (especially those using recycled paper) would eradicate this problem.

CLUES RETAILERS CAN USE

Providing experiences like these that appeal to both shopping types in women 18 to 45 doesn’t simply help you connect with these customers. It gives you useful insight into their buying behavior and what they want from their sales and service experience.

Again, that’s because the two shopping phases women shift between have clusters of behaviors based on hormonal influences. Which means if you spot one type of behavior, you can know more about how else that shopper will behave.

So, in addition to helping managers get more from their efforts to connect with women 18 to 45 in both of their shopping phases, I would show managers and staff what they could expect from a shopper who they see eating a cookie or bopping along to the live music.

That’s because these are easy-to-spot clues about which shopping phase a woman is in.

For instance, I didn’t pick up a cookie. However, I did sing along to the tunes I heard from the live DJ.

Once a staff member saw this, she or he would know all this “insider info” about my shopping behavior:

  • How much I was intending to spend—and what would make me spend more or less
  • What kind of information I wanted to know about a product
  • What kind of experience I want from the sales staff—high-energy and interactive or low-key and hands-off
  • If I would be open to a new type of product or service—or if I preferred to stick to brands I knew well or the types of products or services I’ve purchased before
  • What will inspire me to close the sale

And a staff member could know all this insider info about a woman who took a cookie, too.

All it takes is understanding and using the PhaseMatcher approach—which shows you how to identify the two shopping phases the majority of women ages 18 to 45 shift between, and how to tailor your sales and service approach to them.

 

SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION

If you’d like to set up a consultation with me to learn how to use the PhaseMatcher approach to enhance your sales and service to women ages 18 to 45, contact me!