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Published February 15th 2018

CX in the Wild: Your Store Footprint Goes Beyond The Front Door

Chris Owen describes a bad shopping experience that begins with an awkward encounter, reminding store keepers that first impressions count.

We went mattress shopping yesterday.

It’s not a boast, it’s just a reflection of life as one approaches one’s fortieth birthday, and you realise that perhaps you need something a little more supportive of your ever-increasing lower back than an old mattress which makes a pinging noise.

I used to laugh at the telly at Terry from ‘Terry and June’ (yeah, showing my age, I don’t care), as he creaked out of bed with a groan and a grunting noise. But that’s me now. It’s me. I groan. Involuntarily. It’s not fun.

A very awkward encounter

So we mooched to the enormous shop which sells mattresses. On the way in I indulged in one of my favourite hobbies: taking photos of appallingly parked cars.

There’s a Tumblr and Twitter account dedicated to these pictures, but I can’t link to it because it has a naughty word in the title, so just go to Google and type in ‘you park like a’ and see what crops up.

Anyway, seeing a Mercedes 4×4 happily taking up two – nearly three – spaces, in what is presumably the ‘anything goes’ section of the parking lot, I snapped a picture to smugly share later on the Twitter. Then I walked in, happily pushing our pram and making ‘ssshhh’ noises at the snuffling baby.

“What were you taking a picture of?” asks the dubious looking guy at the front of the store, wearing his company polo shirt.

“The Merc – I like pictures of crappily parked cars,” I reply.

“That’s my car,” he replies.

We stare at each other for a couple of seconds. I feel my wife staring at me too, and I have a sneaky suspicion it’s probably her annoyed face.

“Then you’ve parked crappily.”

Our mattress shopping jaunt is definitely starting well.

All this for a mattress?

I suggest my wife goes off talking to the slightly-angry man about mattresses while I make more cooing noises and settle the tiny person in the pram by walking around the giganta-showroom and try not to shout “FOR A F*CKING MATTRESS?!” when I see one for sale for over £2,500.

I mean, I like sleep as much as the next man – probably more – but hold on a second.

I’d pay that if it was a magic bed which took me off to Narnia every night once I nodded off, but otherwise, nope. Nada.

It’s undoubtedly this reason why the likes of eve and Casper have taken off – remove the massive real-estate overheads and your costs are massively reduced. Make one thing, make it well, and allow your customers to use it in-situ (usually for 100 days). After all, choosing a bed by lying on it in bright warehouse while conscious and fully dressed doesn’t quite replicate ‘how I sleep’.

First impressions

The car thing stuck with me as I sauntered around, trying not to swear.

The punter’s first impression of the store is the person wearing the badge on their polo. If the first thing you walk into is a minor argument about how terribly the store guy parked his car, then it’s not a great starting point.

Likewise, walking into a café, coffee bar, or restaurant with an employee outside it vaping away isn’t conducive to whetting the appetite – unless the appetite you want to whet is one based on huge watery clouds of fruity candy floss splashing into your face.

It’s such a simple thing – ‘remember not to ruin a first impression’ – but every day it’s ignored.

My attempts at cooing haven’t worked and our baby is screaming the place down now so my wife returns and we womble back out promising we’ll be back to have another look. As we leave I turn back to the store guy and point at his still badly-parked car and shake my head.

“You’re turning into Larry David,” my wife says, and my heart swells with pride.

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