Post Categories: Market Watch

What Do Shoppers Really Want?

By Retail News Insider

In the retail industry, there’s a seemingly endless amount of research on everything from trends in food and fashion to consumer behaviors and preferences. Using strategic survey, shopper loyalty and other data, analysts are able to provide valuable insights to retailers and brands.

Just as valuable is the direct feedback that comes from consumers. But we wondered, what exactly does that feedback look like? What happens when you ask consumers open-ended questions like, “what do you want from a retailer?”; “how important is technology?” and “what could retailers do to improve?” To find out, we posed those very questions to consumers across the country.


Q: What do you want from a retailer?

“I want good customer service and a well-organized store. I expect items to be in stock and easy to find. I also look for a good return policy.” —Laurie Coldren, California lauriecoldren

“I want good deals, and I like places that give out coupons. I tend to stick with the retailers I know—if I’ve found something there before, I tend to go back again and again.”—Judy Hurley, California

“I like stores that have reliable products, helpful staff, new products displayed in one place and lots of cashiers, so it’s rare to wait.” —Sharon Murphy Lessard, Massachusetts

“I prefer retailers who don’t try to sell me stuff I don’t need, but at the same time can recognize when they do have something I need and I don’t know it yet. For example, when I worked at a store selling cell phones, people always appreciated it if we reached out to them if they had an upcoming upgrade for a new phone.” —Mark Stephens, Florida markstephens

“I want to be helped by knowledgeable staff and led to good deals by appealing displays. It’s always a great shopping experience when you’ve found something wonderful at a great price when you weren’t even looking for it.”  —Jettiree Edmonds, Connecticut jettireeedmonds

Key Takeaways: As it turns out, shoppers’ wants are fairly consistent—and achievable. Good customer service, a well-organized store and good selection of products rank high on shoppers’ wish lists.


Q: How important is it for a retailer to incorporate technology into the shopping experience?

“I’m more likely to go to retailers that have mobile apps and coupons. Like when I’m at work or running errands, I can just check my phone and look for a store nearby. And when there’s a coupon, I’m likely to buy more.” —Sol Peralta, California/Dominican Republic solperalta

“Apps and mobile offers are important for receiving coupons, but I would use them at the store itself, not online.”—Connie Lance, Washington

“Technology plays a big role in my shopping experience. I do a lot of virtual shopping before I even step into the store, and I like the flexibility of ordering what I need online if I don’t have time to pick it up from the store. This is very helpful for my schedule since I’m working and in school.” —Tyler Mack, Connecticut tylermack

“Technology is important to me because I find the best coupons and offers online. Let’s face it, we live in a largely paperless society now and no one wants to carry around coupons. If I can go to an app or have my mobile offer scanned at check out, I’ll return again and again. It’s just easier.”
—Jettiree Edmonds, Connecticut

“[It’s] very important [for a retailer to have an online option]. Many times I prefer to shop online especially if I don’t have time to physically go to the store.” —Wilma Miranda, Florida

Key Takeaways: Consumers are especially focused on mobile technology. They want to be able to find product information and pull up coupons and offers anytime, anyplace—including in the store.


Q: What’s the most important factor you consider when choosing where to shop? Why?

“I like to shop where there is a wide variety of products to choose from. I will continue to go back to stores where I’ve gotten good deals in the past because of promotions and sales.”
—Sabrina Peterson, Illinois sabrinapeterson

“The most important factor I consider when choosing to shop is price. It is important that I find the most reasonable price to save money while also finding the items I need or want.”—Destinee Holmes, Connecticut


“Coupons good for 25 percent, 30 percent or higher off of the entire purchase motivate me to at least go to the store and look even if I am not in the mood to shop.” —Connie Lance, Washington connielance

“The most important factors I consider when choosing where to shop are price and quality. I’d spend more on a quality product at a high end retail store, but if I can find the product of the same quality for less at a lower end retail store, I would make my purchase from there instead.” —Jettiree Edmonds, Connecticut

“The most important factor is price. I like finding the best value.” —Wilma Miranda, Florida wilamamiranda

 Key Takeaway: Not surprisingly, most shoppers are focused on value—they want good quality at a fair price.


Q: Think of your favorite retail store. What makes it your favorite?

“My favorite store is White House Black Market because there is always a salesperson present that picks out my outfits and tells me how amazing I look in all of them. I love personal service.” —Miranda Agre, Connecticut mirandaagre

“[My local grocery store] is my favorite retailer because the people who work there are polite, helpful and friendly. I won’t shop where the staff is rude or they ignore you as you’re paying the bill.” —Janet Sawyer Bergeron, Massachusettsjanetsawyer

“My favorite store offers great deals and clothing in my size that I can buy off the rack. So many stores say they carry plus-size clothing, but most of their selection is online and not in stores. That leads to lots of returns, because you have to try things on to really know if they’re going to work.” –Erica Bishop, California ericabishop

“[I like my grocery store best because] they are reasonably priced and carry the products I buy. They always ask if you found everything you were looking for. That is as much as I want anyone to bother me when I am shopping!” —Diana MacLeod, New Hampshire dianamacleod

Key Takeaway: Shoppers love retailers who make them feel valued!


Q: No need to name names, but are there any retailers you refuse to shop? Why?

“There are some retailers I dislike shopping at because of the lack of organization. I like to be able to go in and easily find my items. Disorganization makes shopping more time consuming and becomes extremely frustrating.” —Destinee Holmes, Connecticut destineeholmes

“One thing that turns me off is if a retailer advertises a deal and then when I get there they don’t have it or it isn’t the same deal they advertised. I won’t go back. Same if they don’t have a good refund policy like other stores do.” —Judy Hurley, California judyhurley

“There are a couple of retailers I have decided not to shop at due to their lack of interest in the upkeep of the store. When I see a product on the floor, walls and doors in disrepair, floors dirty and employees who seem to chatter more than work, it tells me they don’t value their customers.” —Jettiree Edmonds, Connecticut

“I really dislike a store and get frustrated if the prices are not well marked and available. I don’t want to have to find someone to ask or search for a price check machine.” –Sharon Murphy Lessard, Massachusetts

Key Takeaway: If shoppers can’t easily find what they’re looking for, they’re not likely to come back.


Q: If there’s one thing retailers could focus on in improving in the next year, what would it be?

“I would like retailers, especially clothing, to focus more on having enough larger sizes in stock. I hate when you see a cute top or pants and all they have left are small sizes. Everyone is not a size two or in the plus size category.” —Annisha Gillespie, Indiana annishagillespie

“I’d like them to get better at communicating when products are being discontinued or phased out for the season. It’s frustrating when you find a new favorite item and then the next time it’s not there. I understand some products are seasonal, but some retailers just seem to rotate items through for no clear reason or discontinue them without warning. If I knew ahead of time, I’d stock up!” —Laurie Coldren, California

“I’d like to see more variety for plus sizes. Often times it feels like there’s a very limited assortment, especially for younger women. Also, I’d like to see more options for different shapes. Not every plus-size woman has a pear shape or an hour-glass shape, but that seems to be what they cater to.” –Erica Bishop, California

“I want to be acknowledged at the register… [even a simple] ‘Hi.’ I have experienced cashiers having long conversations on their own with no acknowledgement of me one bit. It’s weird.”
—Sharon Murphy Lessard, Massachusetts sharonmurphy

Key Takeaways: Better service, better communication and better selection (especially when it comes to clothing sizes) rank top on shoppers’ wish lists.


If you find some of the responses surprising, you’re not alone. We didn’t ask shoppers to think of any particular type of store, yet many specified very similar categories, with grocery and clothing stores ranking at the top. A desire for better sizing assortment in clothing stores, echoed by shoppers from two totally different areas of the country, was also unexpected. Given the limited size of shoppers we engaged, we can’t say these are definite trends. But it reinforces the importance of knowing your target audience—and keeping tabs on their evolving needs and wants—not just through the use of data-driven research, but also by connecting with them directly.