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How many customers do YOU lose?

How many customers do YOU lose?

Do you know how many customers abandon their shopping trip? Or come once and never return? These are major issues for e-commerce, but I also found them surprisingly common in supermarkets.

In part they were the result of customers not finding the products or prices they expected. But it turned out that there were other elements actively pushing them away.

Supermarkets work hard to attract shoppers, but they should work just has hard to bring them back.
Supermarkets work hard to attract shoppers, but they need to make sure they'll be back. (Photo by Thinkstock)

There was the amount of effort the shopping trip demanded. Gaps on the shelves meant customers were never sure whether they could get what they wanted. Clutter made a store difficult to navigate. And lines at the checkout made the time the shopping trip would take unpredictable. It wasn't that any one of these was a particular problem, but when they came together they just made the shopping trip not worth the effort.

There were issues with how customers were treated by employees. This wasn't whether or not the customers’ needs were met. Rather, it was how they were made to feel. A caring voice or being recognized by name made customers feel valued and positive, but bored or rude employees left them feeling unappreciated, or even slighted.

And finally, doubts over whether the store really cared about its customers. For example, if there were lines at the checkout, but every checkout was open, customers felt the store was doing its best to cope with the rush. But if some of the checkouts were closed, then they felt it cared more about money than it did about them, and couldn't be trusted.

All this was certainly a good lesson — alongside all the effort that goes in to attract customers, it takes an efficient and caring shopping trip to bring them back. But it was impossible to measure with any certainty. As digital and mobile technologies integrate with the shopping trip, abandonment, conversion and return rates may well be metrics we will need to use.

Have you addressed abandonment or return rates in your stores? If so, what steps have you taken?

Simon Uwins is a former CMO of fresh&easy and Tesco UK, and author of Creating Loyal Brands (2014). Find him online at

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