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Department stores have weighed the benefits and drawbacks of impeding customers’ journeys for perhaps longer than any other sector. Some stores use more nefarious means than others of keeping their customers browsing, for example making it easier to travel up between floors than go down towards the exits.
But John Lewis head of retail design Kim Morris thinks this is bad practice, which the store would only resort to “over my dead body”.
She continues: “If you are going up, your next escalator will lead you on to the landing point of the next escalator up. What we don’t do is switch direction, so you have to walk around a floor to get to an escalator going in your direction.”
She admits there is a danger that prioritising customer convenience means shoppers are likely to leave by the most direct route, rather than spending long periods in the store browsing. But she says this is preferable to intentionally annoying shoppers. Other techniques must be used to attract their attention and stop them in their tracks.
Morris says: “It is really important that as you get to the top of an escalator, something at the top in the signage tells you what is on that floor. If you want to step off and take a look, you have a clear indication and invitation to that floor.”
She adds that the in-store environment is increasingly seen as the antithesis to online shopping by consumers. Rather than causing people inconvenience, a better way to keep them in store longer is to provide food options and attentive personal service from staff.