The prodigal shopper - an interview

The prodigal shopper


Welcome to RetailSmartTV Mrs Prodigal shopper. We appreciate your valuable time.

So, Mrs Prodigal, after years of progressively going online with more of your purchases, you recently achieved 100% online shopping status?

Mrs Prodigal

I thought so, but just yesterday I had to visit the Funeral Home to select a block of land for my husband. Apparently they haven’t heard of Google Maps. Rumour is that the funeral director used to be a Video Store operator before the big switch in 2016 - but yes, everything else is done online. I still visit restaurants of course but I book and pay and review everything online.


Yet you mentioned recently that you are thinking about going back to an old-fashioned bricks-and-mortar store again?

Mrs Prodigal

Well – I thought it would be quaint. You know, like when you go on holiday and you stop off at those little towns in the country that time seems to have forgotten. Be an experience you know…


So can you tell us why you decided to abandon the so-called ‘old-fashioned’ shops? I would think that the convenience and immediacy of traditional retail would have won many people over?

Mrs Prodigal

Well, where do I start …?

I hate walking into a shop where a doorbell pings. Why can’t they just do their job and pay attention to the customers who walk in, instead of always be chatting to each other?

I hated that sales assistants did not approach me in a friendly, likable manner. They either seemed to jump on you as soon as you entered, or I had to interrupt their private conversations to get service and then they always seemed to simply go through the motions.

I hate the cheesy name badges they wear that read: ‘Hi, My name is Kate, How can I help you today.’ If they cared, they could ask me personally.

I hate that so many sales assistants always seem to judge me on my appearance; and then – just because I am not dressed up to the nines, suggest things at the cheaper end.

I especially hated up-selling. They must think consumers are stupid. When I have made up my mind to get a specific product, I don’t need a sales assistant to tell me it was the wrong decision and that I should get another one, which is, surprise-surprise, always more expensive. I don’t mind helpful advice. I don’t mind if they suggest things that will complete the outfit or suit me better, but I really hate pushy sales people.

Finding the product that I want always seemed to be an effort. I would know the product is listed online and then they don’t have it in the store. It always seems as if the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing.

Before I went into a store, I always checked out online prices. The retailers just did not seem to get that no one wants to make sure I did not get ripped off. But because I was price-aware and willing to negotiate, they seemed to lose interest, blame head office or their systems could not cope.

To make it worse, they seemed to confuse my price awareness with being cheap and not willing to spend money. I know full well that some things cost more money and that some things are worth paying more money for. But only if the value is there. Neither I nor any of my friends want to pay more for something that can be found cheaper elsewhere.

I know it costs more money to run a shop, but it is not my problem. If they somehow made it worthwhile or could do something for me that made it worth it, then I would have continued shopping. If shopping in the store is just a transaction then I can do that transaction online for 20% less - even if I have to wait for a few hours for delivery. Getting a parcel delivery feels a little like Christmas anyway, so I don’t mind.

I hate that they sometimes leave you stranded in the dressing rooms.

I hate that they promise to call you back when the product is in store but then never do. And if you ask them about it, they always deny it and swear high and low that they tried to call once.

I hate how you can never find things – there often seems no logic in the way the store is laid out. And sometimes I am not sure if it is a merchandising display that I can touch or some piece of interior decorating.

I hate crowded aisles where I have to brush past other people.

I hate how I can’t reach things when the shop is meant to be designed for women but the shelves seem 8ft high.

I hate that I can’t read the signage without my glasses.

I hate it when there are signs with fine print that contains dozens of lines on their return policy – as if I am going to read it. (Actually they do that on the websites too – but I just click ACCEPT’ – and there will be hell to pay if they do something untoward anyway, so I don’t care about terms and conditions.) They should know that if something is broken or doesn’t fit; I am going to return it irrespective of their policies and I expect them to honour it.

I hate how they always attempt to get my name on the database at the till – only to send me junk mail. I wish they would GET that I don’t have conversations with brands, I have conversations with people.

I hate getting a receipt that is 2 feet long when I bought one pair of shoes. Have they never heard about sustainability?

I hate their crappy little contests with prizes no one ever seems to win and probably doesn’t want to win.

(Takes a deep breath…)

And that is just for starters.


Wow that is a long list. I want to ask you why you decided to return, but we will have to let that one stand over for next time. Will you come back next week to tell us what made you give retail a second chance?

Mrs Prodigal

(Smiles.) Of course I will. See you then.

That’s it for today folks. Tune in again next week.


PS: I am putting together a new newsletter over the next few weeks. I have uncovered the greatest digital marketing campaigns ever. For a taste of things to come… watch this video. It gives a great insight into the type of experience that can be delivered online.

Ganador: Learning and Development for the Retail Supply Chain.

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The prodigal shopper returns (Part II) - follows next week.


The prodigal shopper returns (Part II)

You call THAT an experience?

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