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21 signs a brick and mortar fashion experience is meh.

Saks Fifth Avenue, pictured above, is definitely not meh.

Saks Fifth Avenue, pictured above, is definitely not meh.

There’s a big push for fashion retailers to evaluate their current business and make necessary changes to evolve as shopper expectations increase.  

It’s also important to keep in mind the difference between a shopper and a consumer. This way retailers are able to clearly define which audience they’re appealing to, and identify what’s causing a ‘meh’ reaction and improve it. For a detailed understanding on the difference, read this Forbes article.

To briefly explain, a consumer approaches a purchase from a purely transactional perspective - they have a need, know where to get it and decisions are based on price and convenience.  

Shoppers are open to discovering something new and unexpected. They might be looking for products that embellish or enhance their lifestyle. Or seeking inspiration and a memorable experience along with the purchase journey.  

For shoppers, value comes in a variety of forms such as: product samples, styling tips, friendly conversation, loyalty promotions, interesting e-newsletters, relevant blog content, invitations to exclusive in-store events, an authentic human connection to name a few.

Making just a few small changes consistently will make a lasting impact, portray relevance and create a memorable shopping experience.  

This time of year is a great to conduct a physical retail store audit. Casually ask some shoppers what they like and don’t like, and start to make updates before the next holiday period is upon us. 

21 signs a brick and mortar fashion experience is meh:

  1. Shoppers first impression is an uninspiring shop window with zero strategy or theme 

  2. The store doesn’t look or feel different to other fashion retailers

  3. There’s no music playing or it’s a generic playlist with ads

  4. Shoppers aren’t acknowledged by retail staff when they enter

  5. The space is missing a signature scent

  6. No plants or flowers to uplift the interior

  7. Floor stock hasn’t been steam ironed

  8. Too many racks and tables for shoppers to comfortably walk around the store

  9. There’s no obvious pattern or flow to arranging stock

  10. In-store visual merchandising doesn’t represent current trends and styles

  11. Sale stock looks untidy and hasn’t been changed

  12. There’s visible dust on decor and shelving

  13. Lack of furniture for people to sit & wait comfortably

  14. Marketing collateral & signage misses the mark with communicating to the shopper

  15. Fitting rooms are messy with unflattering lighting

  16. The counter is cluttered with clothes and hangers

  17. Retail staff seem disinterested with engaging shoppers 

  18. POS & inventory system is clunky and stock count is unreliable

  19. A shopper loyalty program hasn’t been implemented

  20. No social media account for shopper’s to connect with

  21. Non existent after purchase engagement strategy.


So, if reading this list, a few or all points are being checked as 'need to address' - that’s fantastic. There’s something that can be fixed, changed or added, to turn an ordinary fashion experience into something beautiful.


Written by Saskia Fairfull, founding member of the Independent Fashion Advisory Board (IFAB). Connecting tech startups with fashion businesses.

Saskia Fairfull