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Darren Gilbert Jun 30, 2017 3:32:39 PM 6 min read

5 Things That Make Your Shoppers Completely Furious

Angry Shoppers.jpg

There are few things worse for you as a retailer than an angry shopper who is intent on telling people about a bad experience they had at your store. Of course, it’s not always your fault. However, when it is your fault, you need to take responsibility and set about fixing the problem. After all, your customer ultimately decides your store’s fate.

Having said that, it’s worth taking a look at those things that irritate your customers most. However, listing them won’t help you as a retailer. But understanding how to fix them will.

1. Queues

All of your customers have been here. They’ve done their weekly or monthly shop and everything has gone smoothly. They’ve even been able to finish their shop in record time. All they need to do now is pay so they can be on their way.

But that’s the problem. As your customers get to the front of your store, they see the queue to pay is snaking around the shop. It’s enough to make anyone break into a cold sweat. And it’s not just one or two of your customers who feel this way.

According to Adrian Slywotzky and Karl Weber, co-authors of Demand: Creating What People Love Before They Know They Want It, a long, slow checkout line is the number one irritation for shoppers.

It makes sense considering your modern-day shoppers expects a convenient shopping experience that helps rather than hinders them.

          How to fix it:

There are a couple of ways that you can fix this, or better yet, prevent this problem.

For one, if you’re a supermarket that expects hundreds of shoppers every day, ensure that your checkout tills are all open and manned throughout your peak hours. In fact, it doesn’t matter if you’re a small or large retailer, keep your tills manned.

An added bonus is that in doing this, you’re helping with any overcrowding in your store, another bugbear for your customers.

Another option is to install LED displays just before your checkout tills which inform your customers how long they can expect to wait until they are able to pay. As noted by Seth Stevenson in an article on Slate, studies have shown that customers are much more patient if they know how long they have to wait.

2. Little to no customer service

We’ve written about this before: there are few things more damaging to your store and brand than bad customer service. In fact, it’s worse than a faulty product because, with that, you at least have an opportunity to correct the problem and provide your customers with a positive experience to remember.

An American Express survey even confirms this, stating that 61% of your customers will go to your competitors because of the bad service they received. Meanwhile, 70% of customers will happily do business with you if you help them resolve a complaint.

          How to fix it:

Depending on your retail business and the products you offer, you’ll have different customers with different needs and expectations. Taking this into consideration, the way to curb any angry customers would be to offer the right type of customer service. After all, a shopper who walks into a pharmacy as opposed to a supermarket will have vastly different expectations.

How do you set about doing this? It comes down to understanding who your shoppers are and this is where your unique shopper personas can play an important role.

3. Untrained and uninformed staff

Walking into a store, your customers are expecting your staff to be able to help them with anything related to the products you sell. A technology retailer is a particularly good example here.

With so many different TVs on offer, it can be difficult to choose which is best. That decision is made even harder when your staff can’t give your customers any reason why they should buy one product over another.

The obvious result is a frustrated customer who rightfully asks this question: how can your staff not know what they’re selling?

          How to fix it:

Fortunately, it’s an easy fix.

For any new recruits, you can implement mandatory training that covers everything in your store from the products you sell to the way you layout your store. Most if not all stores will do this. But don’t stop there. If you’re a technology retailer, what about sending your employees on training courses every few months so they can stay up to date with the latest gadgets?

While it may eat into your budget, the fact that your staff will have a sound knowledge of the products you sell will go a long way in easing any frustrations your customers may have when they ask for help. You’ll also retain customer loyalty, which means more profits for your store.

4. When products are out of stock or not in the expected place

It’s a fact of any retail business: there will come a time when one of your products are out of stock. It’s not a problem if this happens every now and then. It’s only when it becomes a consistent trend that your customers start leaving you because they can’t find what they’re looking for.

Such a situation is not only irritating for your customers but can also cause unnecessary stress, especially if your customer isn’t a frequent shopper.

But it’s more than just an irritation for your shoppers. It’s also a problem for you as a retailer. In an article, Brandon Levey notes that CNBC reported earlier this year that out of stocks, overstocks and returns cost retailers $1.75 Trillion per year.

          How to fix it:

Considering it’s not just a frustration for your shopper should be a good enough reason for you to fix this problem as soon as possible.

One way of doing that would be to look at your inventory planning. If you find that your store is regularly struggling with out of stocks, it could be a sign of poor inventory management.

To fix this, it’s worth looking at implementing a localised assortment plan so you can not only anticipate but also satisfy the needs of your customers and improve in-store experiences.

5. A poor selection of products

While out of stocks can frustrate your customers, a poor selection of products can be just as damaging to the reputation of your store.

That can be particularly disastrous for you if you’re a food retailer as wilting or rotting food is never a pleasant sight or smell. If you’re a clothing retailer or department store, a poor selection can manifest as low-quality products that don’t last long.

The result is two-fold: you’ll have an endless amount of returns, and your customers will lose trust in the products you offer, which means fewer feet entering your store.

          How to fix it:

There are a few ways to fix this, depending on where the problem lies.

If the problem lies with your supplier, you’ll have to have an uncomfortable conversation where you tell them that their supply is not of a high enough standard. But it needs to be done. If they can’t or won’t improve, there’s a good argument for you to look at changing your suppliers.

That said, it’s not necessarily the fault of your supplier. It can also be you, the retailer who is to blame.

If that is the case, you need to look at how you build your planograms. Are you using the right data? Are your days of supply and facings correct? If not, you need to change them or face the possibility of stock that expires on your shelf as it's not moving fast enough.


Regardless of what you do, there will always be an unhappy customer that needs to be dealt with. That’s life. But so long as you can help those customers who have frustrations that you can fix and do something about, you’ll come out better on the other side. You also turn an angry customer into a happy one.


Darren Gilbert

With over 10 years of writing and marketing experience, Darren joined DotActiv in 2017 as a content writer where he was responsible for producing blogs, Ebooks and more. He has since worked himself up to the role of content manager, where he oversees all and any content produced by the company. He has a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of Stellenbosch.