Just how far can things go before customers really start to notice? As long as you have the items they’re looking for at a good price, do they really care how clean your store is?

The assumption may have been “not really” in the past. But things have changed, big time.

How little does it take for a customer to leave and shop somewhere else?  Let’s find out.

A Poor Retail Appearance Loses Over Half Its Business

A widely cited 2019 report compiled by ServiceChannel states 64% of shoppers surveyed said they had walked out of a store due to poor physical appearance and disorganization.

This is due in part to customers being more prone to make a purchase when the environment of the store reflects the anticipation and ‘newness’ of the product they want. 

If that customer’s environment includes dusty shelves, debris on the floor, and dirty windows, it damages their perception of the quality of surrounding products. 

Researchers at Princeton University found that excessive clutter can overwhelm the visual cortex with task-irrelevant objects, making it harder to allocate attention and complete tasks efficiently. When that task is finding and purchasing a product at your store, a disorganized or messy environment may lead to frustration that spurs them to simply shop elsewhere. 

These tendencies don’t just come into play in the store, however.

Survey results found that 95% of consumers consider a store’s exterior appearance an important factor when deciding upon a place to shop.

The store’s exterior sets the tone for what the entire shopping experience will be like. If it communicates “run down” or “we’re not on our game,” it’s easy enough to keep on driving. Or for that visit to be the last one.

More than 80% of consumers from the Service Channel survey stated they’d be willing to try a new store if the exterior was clean and inviting.

This illustrates that customer loyalty is largely a myth. Yes, many businesses enjoy a relationship with repeat customers that can span decades. It’s understandable to get comfortable with that and perhaps take the business for granted.

But given the prevalence of smartphones, GPS navigating with a simple command, and Google’s local searching, it’s simply too convenient for shoppers to pivot to a Plan B.

The research says it all: if we give them any striking reason not to shop at our location right off the bat, modern shoppers are very willing to make another stop.

Retail Customer Impressions: Inside and Out

Your customer’s experience starts with their impression of the parking lot and building exterior.

Even if a customer isn’t consciously looking for things like peeling paint or dingy flooring, it all subtly contributes to the impression they’re forming.

What standards must you maintain to make a great impression on customers, and provide them with a clean and inviting atmosphere? How do you make sure customers feel safe and hygienic while shopping in a post COVID-19 environment?

The Retail Building’s Parking, Entryway, and Walls

The parking lot and sidewalk can quickly accumulate trash and debris, especially if you’re located in a populated area with a lot of foot traffic. A lot full of garbage and old cigarette butts, or that is run down with potholes, immediately speaks to low quality.

Glass surfaces and windows get grimy from smog and traffic, darkening and cheapening the effect of your window displays. Often when retail workers try to clean their windows they end up streaky, making them more difficult to clean the next time. There’s a reason so many businesses employ window washers — they get dirty fast, and are a pain to keep clean. 

Dirty building walls and signs are next to impossible to clean properly without using a commercial pressure washer. Few retailers have the time or resources to devote to cleaning the exterior of their physical buildings, and it shows as their colors fade under a layer of muted gray. 

Bathrooms, Trash Removal, and Floors

The bathrooms are ground zero for customer complaints about unclean stores. As your foot traffic increases it’ll be difficult to keep them stocked and clean on an hourly basis, and when business picks up and all hands are on deck the bathrooms are the first thing to fall by the wayside. 

All it takes is one nasty bathroom experience to taint a customer’s view of the store.

Trash cans fill up quickly and overflow. Not only does that look bad to walk by, if a customer actually needs to throw something out on their way from the parking lot, or inside the store, not being able to do so now creates the association of shopping there and inconvenience.

According to OSHA, 17% of disabling injuries on the job are from accidental trips and falls on tile flooring. Saving your employees and customers from a potentially nasty accident, and saving yourself the legal and financial penalties, is an important reason to keep it clean. 

Dust is a constantly regenerating enemy. When a customer lifts an item off the shelf only to see its imprint in the dust underneath, they’re not going to be motivated to leave with that item. It gets deep into carpets and furniture too, fading their color and loading up the fibers with irritating particles. This often requires you to schedule a deep clean with a carpet cleaner or furniture steam cleaner.

Need a Retail Cleaning Company That Can Do It All?

Many retailers employ the services of a trusted commercial cleaning company to make sure these critical standards are met and exceeded. No one is better suited for the task than Carolina Services of the Triad, Inc.

Contact us today for a personalized cleanliness solution.