The In-Store Experience

The survey, conducted by MESH01, included 401 respondents, male and female.

For independent brick-and-mortar retailers, getting consumers to shop in-store rather than online is an ever-present challenge. But once those customers do decide to shop in the store, delivering on what they want is also critical. In our latest survey, we asked consumers which types of stores they prefer to shop for footwear in, and what they expect and hope for when it comes to in-store service. A prominent theme? Selection. Once a consumer decides to shop in a store, having an assortment of brands and styles available to buy on the spot is critical.

Twenty-eight percent of survey respondents said their top choice of store to shop would be an independent shoe store or a footwear specialty chain. Sixty-four percent rated the level of knowledge of sales people in these stores as “very good” or “excellent.” Brand and product assortment was highlighted as the element in a store that makes the biggest impression on shoppers.

In the final question of the survey, which was open-ended, we asked, “If you could change one thing about your in-store shopping experience, what would it be?” Answers there ranged from things such as loyalty discounts and brand assortment improvements to the availability of treadmills and foot scanners in-store to a desire for “less pushy” salespeople. A sample of replies: “Less upselling.” “Free chair massage?” “A more involved fitting process.” Read on for a look inside the mind of the in-store shopper.

If you could change one thing about your in-store shopping experience, what would it be?

That more of the employees are knowledgeable with the shoes offered in the store. Female 48

Better organization/labeling of brands/models. Female 30

I would ensure that there are more associates available to assist. Female 26

I would like to feel less pressure, have more areas to sit and have more mirrors available. I would also like to see more sock options that would go well with the shoes I am purchasing if applicable. Female 41

Not to be hounded by a sales person. But also being able to easily find a sales person when needed. Female 44

Sales associates hovering the whole time. It’s nice to have some alone time with the shoes. Male 19

Having a foot scanner in every store would be sweet. Male 38

To not have the items separated by brand, to have them separated by style. Male 29

The approach of sales staff. There’s little middle ground between not caring if I’m in there versus driving hard for a commission. Male 29

Honest and considerate salespersons. Too many companies drive their employees to make additional sales instead of encouraging honest service. Female 45

Price. Usually a really great in store experience comes with a high price tag. Female 36

Better customer service. Employees who understand the meaning of customer experience, to ‘surprise and delight’ during this COVID time is lacking. In the past, I’ve supported local retailers who did things in the community such as group walk/runs that start from the brick-and-mortar location. Female 59

Less salesy feel from the staff and more educational. Female 38

I would love to be able to view the brick-and-mortar store’s current shoe selection online first before making the trip to the store, just so I know there are interesting options available to me. Male 49

Price match with online prices. Female 40

Less upselling. When I go to buy shoes I don’t need nutrition and socks and insoles and recovery etc., etc. Male 35

That all of the people are trained on shoe fit. Some stores don’t always train the whole staff. So if you go on an off peak hour, there might not be a person there who is as knowledgeable to help you.
Female 43

More things like offering drinks, places to sit, gifts with purchases, etc. Female 54

Probably selection. I typically purchase at a couple of fairly well-stocked but smaller stores, and there selection can be a challenge sometimes. Ultimately, I’m happy to have the local options, so I continue to support them. Male 40

Have product availability in store available to search online. Male 27

A more involved fitting process - knowledgeable staff with suggestions, scanners for sizing my feet, etc. Female 40

Lower prices, in line with what’s available online. That said, I’m happy to pay a bit more for the knowledge/experience of the staff. Male 47

I appreciate when staff are more interested in what I’m training for than what I’m buying. Male 32

I would like to be closer in age to the sales associates. I mean these high school cross country guys are in super great shape and they’re so young. I’m not saying that I want more middle aged folks working at the store, but I would appreciate a little more understanding from the 4 minute mile guys for the 10 minute mile guys. Male 47

Better prices and more availability of all the options. If I could try them on then have shoes of any color or style or size shipped next day to my house, for same price, with same return policy, I’d like that. Male 53

It would be neat if stores would have a good reward program that tracked what I got so when Its time to get new shoes you could order the same from the stores website. Male 39

Steeper loyalty discounts... keep me coming back by giving me a great deal. Male 52

Agnostic recommendation of brands/styles vs. smaller selection and pushing limited brands that the store might carry. Male 42

I have a tough time finding product that fits my feet so having size and width options is important to me when shopping. If they don’t have wide then it is usually tough for me to find something to get. Male 31

If the shoes are in the back then make sure someone is around to grab them. Male 36

The customer service should be better. People are not as helpful or as friendly as they use to be. Female 40

I would like to not feel pressured to buy extra items or have to wait more than 10 minutes for a shoe to be found in the back room. Female 36

I wish it offered a more holistic experience, such as having a running treadmill to properly try out the shoes in store. Male 32

Shoes are often grouped by brand rather than runner type. I would like to see all the low-stack height, neutral shoes grouped together instead. Male 44

If I take the time to go into a store looking for shoes they better have them! I don’t want to have to come back, I don’t want to have to check another store, I don’t want to have to order them online to get the color or size I want. If I go into a store looking for shoes, I want them now!  Male 42

I usually have a great experience in store! I really wish wider shoes were more common in store vs. online, but I think I’ll be searching for more shoe stores near me because of this survey. Female 28

Free chair massage? (Haha.) I don’t know really… I don’t think I’d change anything. Female 47

Have people not want to sell me something, but help me with something. Male 26

I would appreciate it if the reps in the store could tone it down and maybe only provide service when asked for it rather than pushing for it. I wish there was a slightly less hands-on approach but at the same time, service should be provided if you ask for it. Female 32