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Observing the Store (lobby) experience - 4 days

. Ariel

(On State street, that great street...)

Much of last week I was downstairs recruiting people for an in-store eye-tracking study. Spending hours a day in the busy lobby of the state street entrance, right beside the center of downtown Chicago, brought us in contact with a tremendous cross-section of the city and Sears customers. Thought I’d share some observations I had about the store and our customers that don’t necessarily relate to the homepage study we were doing. In no particular order...

  • People come to the downtown Sears for everything (sweaters, coffee grinders, car repair tools, electronics, jewelry, lingerie, etc...)
  • The store downstairs gets a very diverse mix of traffic, people shopping alone, in couples, in a hurry, just killing time, with their families or with their coworkers, shopping for themselves, shopping for others, shopping for unborn children, stocking up before leaving the country, or outfitting new places after just moved to the city, city residents and suburbanites in town for the day or tourists from far away places, people who shop online and people who seem to have never touched a computer, people living on the street and people who are gainfully employed
  • Revolving doors really do keep the draft out much better than normal doors
  • It’s true, many people just use us for our restrooms
  • At least a couple people a day come into the store to apply for a job
  • Something about the center of downtown Chicago seems to disorient people, people get turned around won’t hesitate to come into Sears to ask for directions
  • ‘Lunch hour’ these days seem to be anywhere from 11-4pm, and many spend that time shopping
  • The phenomenon you’ve long heard is true: once a line forms, people will just get in it, without knowing why or what it’s for, or how long the wait is
  • Middle-aged men are the hardest to get to stop and talk with you (especially if they’re wearing a suit)
  • Older folks, of either gender, are the next toughest group to stop
  • Middle-aged women are most likely to participate in the study
  • Some people spend hours upon hours in our store, often coming in and out of our doors many times on a given day (particularly older women)
  • Those State st. side revolving doors are heavy and many customers struggle with them
  • We have a lot of apparel shoppers (especially on colder days)
  • The store directories positioned by the doors are completely ignored by the vast majority of customers
  • The magic hours seem to be from 1-3pm for getting people to stop and participate

On top of what we learned from the actual study we were conducting, just spending that kind of time in the store engaging our customers was a great experience. Even if you aren’t actively involved in research or in-store intercepts, I’d highly recommend it as a great way to get closer to our customers to help complete the bigger ‘Sears’ picture...


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