A view of the industry through the
eyes of independent and chain retailers.
The 360 Degree Pass-By
Take a close -- and closer --
look at your store.
by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender (June 21, 2010)
One good thing about being on the road is that
when you return to what’s familiar you have a fresh perspective.
After a few days away we always see our office in a different light,
and we usually make a few positive changes. Time away from our
office allows us to see it more clearly through the eyes of our
clients: the furniture placement that made sense when we left town
now looks unbalanced. And those piles of paper on our desks that we
always plan to get to, but somehow never do, just make our office
look disorganized and, well, messy.
Sometimes you just have to step back and be
your own customer.
If you’ve heard us say it once, you’ve heard us
say 1000 times that there is no reality in retailing, only
perception – the customers’ perception of your store is the only one
that counts. You can have the best product at the best price;
fabulous, caring, and knowledgeable sales associates; great sales;
and even better in-store events, BUT the second a customer walks in
your door and finds you having a bad day, her perception changes.
And usually not for the better. We all make an unconscious value
judgment about the stores we shop in within the first 10 seconds of
contact. It isn’t fair, but it happens. That’s why you have to
constantly be on guard about how your store looks through your
How often do you look at your store through the
objective eye of the customer? Notice that we said “objective.”
You’re not being objective if you look at a really tired display and
think, “Oh, that display is a mess, but I still need to sell more of
that product. I can leave it up another day or two.” No, you can’t.
Customers will look at that same display and think less of your
Ideally, you should do an in-depth tour of your
store at least once a month, but to keep things in balance, do a 360
Degree Pass-By each morning before you unlock the doors for
business. The parking lot is a good place to start:
Survey the Parking Lot: Is the parking
lot easily accessible? Are store associates’ cars parked in the best
spaces? Is the parking lot clean and brightly lit?
Size Up the Store Front: Does your
store front require paint or repair? Is there clutter to be cleaned
up or exterior displays to be reorganized? Have the flowers in your
planters seen better days? Can customers easily see your store front
sign? Are all the bulbs in working order? Are your windows clean and
free of old signs? Do the window displays need attention?
Access the Decompression Zone: The
Decompression Zone is the 5’ to 15’ just inside the front door of
the store. Its purpose is to slow down rushed and distracted
customers so they can concentrate on shopping. Is your DZ
uncluttered, inviting, and easy to navigate?
(By the way, if you have shopping carts – and
you should have shopping carts because they encourage customers to
shop longer and spend more money – don’t store them in the DZ
because customers will likely miss them. Instead, place them just
beyond the DZ. And if you offer baskets, place them in handy spots
throughout the store. If your store can use smaller carts, visit
www.bigbasketco.com and check out the Basket-Carts.)
Work Your Speed Bumps: Do your Speed
Bump displays – small tables or fixtures of hot product placed just
beyond the Decompression Zone – need to be fluffed or re-stocked?
Work your Speed Bumps – they sell product. And change them at least
once a week, whether they need it or not.
Power Wall Ahead: Look Right: Your main
Power Wall is located just inside your store and to the right. This
is a premium location that is highly visible and heavily shopped; it
should be used to merchandise hot product stories, new items, and
high demand items. Are your Power Wall displays set to sell? Do
they need to be re-stocked or re-merchandised? At Back to School
time this wall needs to SCREAM “You need this merchandise!”
Review Your In-store Signing: Does your
signing reflect the style and personality of the store? Can
customers easily read them? Is there sale or product signing that
needs to be updated or removed? Are there signs with cutesy
references to breakage and unwatched children present, that you did
not approve, that need to go away forever?
Check Out the Check Out Counter: Is
there enough room on the counter for a customer to comfortably
complete the transaction? Are there impulse items displayed at the
checkout to encourage add-on sales? Is there an interesting display
behind the checkout counter that will keep customers thinking about
product? Is your policy and procedure signing customer friendly? Do
you have enough of this week’s Bag Stuffers to make it through the
Walk the Aisles: Is there product
spilling over into the aisles? Are there stack or dump displays
blocking the main aisles? Can customers easily maneuver a shopping
cart, wheel chair or stroller down the aisles? Can two carts easily
pass one another throughout the store?
Survey Your Merchandise Presentation:
Are your displays fresh? Do they encourage customers to stop and
look, and entice them to buy? Are there open peg hooks or empty
spots on the shelves that need to be restocked? Is the product
“faced” (brought to the front of the shelf or hook)? Are there bin
If you do the 360 Degree Pass-By each day, you
will soon become attuned to things that are out of place or need
your immediate attention. Once a month, dig deeper with KIZER &
BENDER’s No-Fail Perception Exercise:
1. Look at the same things that you
review during your daily 360 Degree Pass-By. During this exercise,
you will spend more time observing each area.
2. Don’t fix, move, or adjust anything
in the store before you do this exercise. You want a clean vision
of what the store really looks like on a typical day.
3. Survey your store during regular
business hours – not before opening or after closing. You want to do
this exercise while customers are in the store shopping.
4. Dress in the same attire as a typical
customer. If it’s cold outside, put on a winter coat. Haul a
stroller and diaper bag with you. Emulate a typical shopper by
filling your arms with product. Do whatever makes sense; the goal is
to recreate the customer’s experience as closely as possible.
5. Don’t just put on your coat and walk
out the door. Hop in your car and drive down the street. Re-enter
your parking lot and drive by your store from all directions so you
can see it from different perspectives.
6. Carry a notepad and make a list of
things to do; you can prioritize your list later and make changes as
necessary. You might even want to ask a store associate to do the
same exercise – you can compare notes later.
Remember that perception becomes reality. If
you do not control how your store is perceived, it just might get
away from you. Customers will create their own perception of your
store and you might not like the one they choose. Your daily
diligence will help ensure that customers see your store as you want
them to see it. That alone is worth the 10 minutes of time it takes
to do a daily 360 Degree Pass-By.
To read previous columns, click on the titles in the right-hand
column. Rich and Georganne will be conducting the following seminars
at the CHA summer show in Rosemont next month:
“Extreme Retail Makeover: The Customer Experience - Hiring and
Keeping Good People To Keep Your Customers Coming Back” on Mon.,
July 26, 1:30-2:30 pm.
2. “Social Media for Retailers: A Step by Step Guide to Join the
Conversation” on Tues., July 27, Noon – 2:00 pm.
3. “Extreme Retail Makeover: Power Merchandising for Profit” on
Wed., July 28, 10:00 am – 11:00 am.
For more show information and to order tickets, visit
KIZER & BENDER Speaking!
Keynotes | Seminars | Consulting | Store Design
103 North 11th Ave., Ste. 206,
St. Charles, Illinois 60174
Phone: 630-513-8020 | 24/7 Mobile: 708-347-2682 Fax: 630-513-8098
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