Women Don’t Have Time to Shop in Stores

Discussion
Mar 08, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


A survey of 1,300 women in the U.K. finds that demands of work and home life have taken the joy out of shopping in stores.


The research from the retail consultancy, Conchango, found one-third of women surveyed “resent” having to shop on weekends and two-thirds feel stressed out shopping on High Street.


The number one complaint of women is the long wait on lines at stores.


An increasing number of women in the U.K., as in the U.S., are turning to online and catalog shopping to avoid the hassles of going to the store.


Mike Altendorf, of Conchango, told The Scotsman: “Busy mothers and industrious career women have little time to peruse the shops, and retailers must acknowledge this by making sure they are providing customers with multiple channels to shop, especially the Internet, which should offer the same consistent experience as in-store.”


Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed said they shop online because stores are not open at convenient hours.


Moderator’s Comment: How important is an online presence to consumers perception of a retail brand? Do retailers need to adjust store hours and make
other customer service adjustments to make life easier for working women?

George Anderson – Moderator

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16 Comments on "Women Don’t Have Time to Shop in Stores"


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Mark Burr
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Not being a woman, I can’t speak for them. But I think you could interchange this issue with either gender. Karenk makes the point exactly where the right combination of net vs. brick and mortar has to exist. Online shopping is great, if you always have the 3-5 days to await delivery. There’s always the next-day delivery availability, but the cost in that case usually outweighs the time and cost of a trip out.

I have always believed that many retailers simply look for ways to cause online shopping rather than taking into account what I have always thought is the best benefit that I refer to as ‘net-influenced’ sales. Karenk’s example is exactly where retailers often miss out. I think a more ‘holistic’ approach is the best direction.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
14 years 11 months ago
Adjusting store hours is not necessarily helpful. Even if they were open 24/7 people might prefer not to spend their limited leisure time out shopping rather than sitting at home and shopping. For those things that they really do not want to buy without touching/feeling them, most people can and will make the time to get to the stores if they are open reasonably long hours. Until quite recently many English stores closed for Monday or Wednesday or Saturday afternoons. They have finally figured out that that doesn’t make sense and many, in town centres or shopping centres, now stay open until 8pm. That is fairly acceptable, I think, as the majority of people going out later than that in the evening are after fun, not shopping. Groceries are the exception and we do have some that stay open 24 hours but I doubt that there is massive demand and would have to check figures to see if they can even justify that financially. As for other customer service adjustments, attentive, knowledgeable and courteous service… Read more »
Carol Spieckerman
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

Online presence is terribly important to this chick. I would say that 90% of my non-grocery shopping is now done online and several times per week, you’ll hear me exclaim “What? They don’t let you shop on their site!?” when I land upon a online brand-billboard that won’t let me shop and buy.

I believe that all bricks and clicks retailers should have in-store kiosks that allow salespeople and/or customers look up and execute purchases for items that aren’t currently in the store. Retailers have to get the sale when the consumer is ready to buy!

Karen McNeely
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

For those who truly love shopping and/or prefer touching and seeing what they are buying, but also face time constraints, there is nothing like the combination of internet and brick and mortar. One recent personal example; I needed to find a plaid shirt for my son. Some quick late night checking on the internet weeded out some potential retailers, told me which was my best bet and that is where I was able to find it efficiently the next day on my lunch hour. Those that did not show most of their assortment on line never even got consideration.

Bernie Slome
Guest
Bernie Slome
14 years 11 months ago

The catalog industry grew as a result of the convenience it provided to shoppers. Shoppers who were unable to visit a store were able to shop and make purchases. The catalog business had a second growth spurt when women became an important part of the work force and found the convenience of shopping at home. As the Internet has grown and as women have become more comfortable with the Internet; the growth of on-line purchases has and will grow. Many things in life can obtained in whatever quantity available except one…that one is time. Even if retailers adjust their hours, even if they carry all products and even if their customer service is second to none…they cannot overcome the issue of time. Thus men and women will continue to make purchases whenever and however it suits them best.

Matt Werhner
Guest
Matt Werhner
14 years 11 months ago

In most cases, it is necessary to have an online presence at this point in time. Retailers not offering sales through this medium are missing sales opportunities and are well behind the times. A retailer’s website should work as an extension as well as a representation of their company. In many ways the website is an extension of a service. If the service or convenience is not offered, consumers will spend their money somewhere else.

Retail is notorious for having terrible working hours for their employees. This obviously translates into convenient hours for customers. Many if not most retailers in the US are open 12 hours a day. I don’t think adjusting the store hours to offer more convenience is the issue. Most retailer’s hours already revolve around the consumer.

David Livingston
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

One thing I have learned in life is that if people want something bad enough, they always find the time and money to get it. This is not about busy moms or store hours. The issue is the retailers not providing a good enough shopping experience. If they were, these women, or any other type of consumer, would be finding a way to make time to visit the stores. For example, Trader Joe’s does not open at 6am and they are often not accessible to large segments of our population. Yet they have what is perhaps the highest sales per square foot grocery store performance in the USA. People seem to find the time to shop their stores on Trader Joe’s terms.

Kai Clarke
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

It is amazing that in this day of the Internet, so many people just don’t get it. Convenience is the largest draw of shopping, and the growth of the Internet has now made it possible to shop almost anywhere, conveniently, and find what you want. We are clearly mid-way through a paradigm shift and retailers are still trying to stop the advancement of technology (which they can’t). Those retailers who succeed will be the ones who adapt, while listening to their customers, rather than fighting them. Online shopping is growing and will continue to do so for quite some time. It is the vehicle to attract and grow one’s business. Ignoring it, or continuing to emphasize the brick and mortar presence, instead of the online presence, is a guaranteed way to perish. We only need to look at the iTunes store as a great example of the online strength.

James Tenser
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

These findings support the widening consensus that neither brick and mortar nor Web-only retailers can fully serve today’s consumers. Like it or not, lifestyles are more complex today than ever and therefore the merchant’s proposition must meet them in ways that fit their lifestyles.

Even small mom and pop retailers will do better by managing their customer touchpoints. Today, a basic commercial Web site and an email marketing list are within the reach of any small business. Merchants must be reachable in the search engines. They must provide firm information and a means of customer contact at least – better yet, a means for viewing goods and transacting purchases.

So some women are learning they can better manage their time and enhance their lifestyles by making some purchases online. I say winners will serve customers through the channels and in the idioms through which they want to be served. If that means the retail business is too complicated for some, well, it’s a tough world.

Magda O'HANLON
Guest
Magda O'HANLON
14 years 11 months ago

For repeat purchases, on-line is great. However, nothing beats seeing and feeling the item. Books, CD’s etc. are OK on-line but I would never buy apparel through a catalogue or on-line. Shopping at the stores is more satisfying and engaging. You can always find the time for things you enjoy.

David Zahn
Guest
14 years 11 months ago
Common sense would dictate that you need to appeal to your shopper/customer and meet him/her on the terms friendliest to the shopper/customer. What good is having a perfectly merchandised brick and mortar store if your target shopper is unavailable to shop it during your business hours? If the customer being targeted has migrated to doing shopping (or preferring to shopping) “after hours” then wouldn’t it make sense to change the hours of the store AND/OR provide an opportunity to shop the stores inventory remotely (i.e.; internet)? The shopper does not exist for the pleasure and convenience of the store owner…the reverse is true…the shop is designed to meet the needs of the person holding the cash/credit card/checkbook – the consumer. If the discussion is what can be done to entice the shopper to choose to do shopping in the physical store itself, then customer service/knowledgeable staff/well laid out stores/etc. are appropriate to discuss. If, however, the dialogue is on whether to have an internet or catalogue or other “remote” shopping opportunity available for customers, then… Read more »
Warren Thayer
Guest
14 years 11 months ago

This isn’t just a gender thing. Who has time to shop like we used to, especially with increasingly crowded roads and stores, and very little in the way of service? I suspect the complaint about store hours being inconvenient is more a problem in England than in the U.S. Stores need a complete and easy-to-use website, making ordering simple. At their brick and mortar locations, they should promote the site, and vice versa. By and large, this is done only subtly now, when it could/should be done consistently and obviously.

MARY VANSYCKEL
Guest
MARY VANSYCKEL
14 years 11 months ago

I have never been the stereotypical woman who enjoys shopping in stores. It has been a dread for me all my life and I know many women like me. First catalog shopping and then online shopping changed the way I feel about shopping altogether. It suits my personality and it suits my schedule. The only negative result is that I now spend more money, simply because I enjoy the experience more….

Catherine Sleep
Guest
Catherine Sleep
14 years 11 months ago
A primary advantage to online shopping is that it lets you multitask, which for working mums is crucial. You can have washing in the machine, dinner in the oven and the kids doing homework in the next room while you plug your shopping list into your computer. Okay, men juggle too, but like it or not it’s more often women when it comes to shopping. Sometimes we want to hit the shops and see products first hand but more and more we’re prepared to buy remotely. After all, if you have one hour to do the shopping, and it’s mundane repeat purchases, and it’s the end of a busy day, what would you rather do? Up and out to Tesco or lounge around with your laptop and a nice glass of red in front of Desperate Housewives? Bricks and mortar can’t compete. But it will only work if the website in question is robust and user-friendly, and more importantly the delivery and customer service must be as slick as the interface. Otherwise you just postpone… Read more »
Bill Bittner
Guest
Bill Bittner
14 years 11 months ago

Although not gender specific, the general trend of companies to create “consumer services” that require more online effort on the part of consumers may have a backfiring effect on the consumer’s desire to visit the store. As more people spend time paying bills online, doing their banking online, and finding their entertainment online, it makes it easier and easier for them to also want to do their shopping online. If there are no other reasons for them to “go into town,” online shopping is almost inevitable.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 11 months ago
Many retailers would love to sell online, but they don’t know how to do it profitably. Three big issues include: they don’t want to spend the money and time to build the infrastructure due to competing priorities; they don’t see how to make the effort profitable; and they wonder if their overhead will rise without a large enough sales increase (self-cannibalization of the their current customers). It’s much easier for a higher-margin retailer (such as Penney’s, which specializes in its own brand of clothing) to see how online sales could be profitable compared to a lower margin commodity retailer (such as ShopRite supermarkets). One answer to 1 of the 3 big issues: outsource the effort to a provider who’s doing it for other retailers already. Another answer: if you’re in a low-margin business, charge for the convenience. ShopRite supermarkets charge $10 an order plus a delivery fee based on zip code. Will there be self-cannibalization? Not if you take business away from the competition. This is a market-share game and anyone not participating is likely… Read more »
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