Today, on the last day of week 3 in Campaign Smile, I experienced the absolutely lowest number of smiles so far of any campaign stop. That number is none other than 0. Amazingly enough, I was able to spend nearly half an hour walking around one of the home improvement chain stores and not have one single person smile back at me. Don’t misunderstand me on this. I still know I have passed some good along to every person I met and, quite possibly, even some that didn’t see me by shining with that positive energy. However, it was still quite a statement that I could not get one person to return my smile. I am not daunted by this. No, I am even more driven to find a way to take the campaign to another level to improve the shopping experience.
Yesterday I wrote quite a bit about retail employees and what might make it difficult for them to be happy and pass it along to shoppers. After 11 years in retail sales/management I know that it is often difficult to “put on a happy face” every day. I also know that some coworkers or higher level managers might make it even more difficult as they struggle to do their jobs as well. Still, I think there must be more individuals and companies can do to make retail jobs feel more rewarding.
Today, though, I wanted to talk about all of us as shoppers. What happened along the way that has made many, if not all, shopping experiences a drudgery? So many people seem so put upon when you see them shopping. Granted, they are parting with money so it can feel a little dreary. However, many times, like today, I see people in environments where they are shopping for things that should bring them joy but they still look beat down. My wife and I spent ten minutes talking and dreaming about the grand improvement of our lives with a new shower head. I expected to see more of that type of shopper. I was not standing in the aisles where carpenters were picking up supplies for their job. I was watching people shop for beautiful new appliances, lovely decorative items that would transform their room, and gorgeous plants to enhance their outdoor areas. These are all things, for the most part, that are being purchased for their ability to give us an experience we want yet nobody seems to be even dreaming of that experience, just buying more things. Shopping is an exchange of something you have (usually money) for something you want. Whether that want is nutritional sustenance or a dream vacation it is a trade to get what you want more. Sure, we want to have money, don’t we? No, what we really want is the experiences that money can provide us when we trade it for them. So, tell me, then, why are we not even happy about what we are getting? There should be genuine happiness when you are trading your money for a new stove or a week on a cruise ship or a steak dinner. All I want to know is who I have to talk to in order to get this straightened out. Let me chat with the decision makers who can help make stores happy places again. Give me the chance to consult with a company to see what small changes they can make to correct some abstract concepts like customer happiness to give them concrete results like larger sales and return shoppers. The campaign marches on!