Desperate Housewives

When designing new stores retailers should listen to their customers.

I was shopping in the A&P a few Sundays ago when I overheard a conversation between two middle-aged married couples. They ran into each other near the service meat case (those new Woodson & James steaks are fabulous by the way) and apparently had met earlier in the day at either church or brunch. Both of their carts were laden with groceries so they were obviously doing their big weekly shopping trip.

“We’ve been in this store for an hour!” one of the women exclaimed. Her husband added they had just gone back to pick up a canister of iced tea mix, found on Aisle 1. “Why do they have the iced tea in with the coffee?” the wife asked. Obviously they had looked for the iced tea mix in the soft drink aisle clear on the other side of the store.

“I can never find anything in this store,” the other wife said.

Her husband chimed in, “She’s always saying they should have women design these stores.”

“That’s right!” the wife said, to a nodding agreement from the other couple. “I’m always saying that women are the ones doing the shopping, yet these stores are designed by a bunch of men sitting in some office. It is not designed by how people shop.”

I have to say that I agree. I’ve been shopping in this particular A&P since it opened several years ago and I still have trouble finding things. I almost always end up running along the back of the store trying to guess what aisle  some particular grocery item that I can’t find might be down. It’s not just A&P. I’ve had the same issues with one of my local ShopRites. I had a coupon for Bayer aspirin and went to look for it in the Pharmacy section. When I couldn’t find it I asked the pharmacist only to be told that aspirin is found on Aisle 3 with the mouthwash and toothpaste clear on the other side of the store.

Perhaps when retailers are designing a new store or remodel they should go to their frequent shopper databases and invite a few of their best customers in for a focus group brainstorming session. They can treat them to lunch from the deli and give them a few coupons for free items. They might also learn some valuable pointers and increase sales and build shopper loyalty in the process.

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