How To Tell If New Customers Like Your Shop

Observe customers, ask them to take a survey, or hire a mystery shopper to determine how customers perceive your shop.
Photo Credit: ATA

Author: Cassie Gasaway

Think back to your childhood. If you were outdoorsy, you might remember lying in the grass with a friend or sibling to watch the clouds roll by. If you did, you probably took turns identifying cloud shapes. You thought one looked like a football, but your friend thought it was a fish. Another time, you pointed out a castle, but your friend said it was a sea creature.

Its normal for two people to see the same thing but perceive it differently. Chances are, the perception of your archery shop is much different than a customers.

Youre in the shop every day stocking shelves, pricing items and moving things around. It’s familiar to you, and you’re comfortable in the space. New customers won’t feel the same. You might think your shop is intuitive and easy to navigate, but they might find it confusing and frustrating.

Pay attention to where your customers gravitate. Place popular items in the high-traffic areas. Photo Credit: ATA

To ensure first-time customers perceive your shop in a positive light, you must try to look at it through their eyes. Is it clear where to find specific items? Is it easy to identify staff members? Are signs, price tags and product descriptions in the correct spots? You can ask yourself these questions, but to get an honest, unbiased opinion, try one of these methods:


1. Observe Newcomers

Greet customers as they enter your shop and casually observe them while they browse. Notice how they react as they walk around. Do they wander around the aisles looking for something, or can they quickly navigate to what they need? What are their body language and facial expressions saying? As you observe how customers interact with your shop and staff, take notes so you can reference them later.


2. Take an Anonymous Survey

At the end of a customer’s visit, ask them to take a five- or 10-question survey. Have customers rate your store’s cleanliness, inventory, wait time, store layout, atmosphere and customer service. Use a scale of 1 to 5 so the survey is easy to complete in a few minutes. Leave space at the end so customers can share specific details and open-ended feedback regarding your shop and their experience.


3. Hire a Mystery or Secret Shopper

This is someone who is hired to visit your store, browse the merchandise, interact with the sales staff, buy something and then report on their experience to you. Your employees shouldn’t know a shopper is working undercover. The tactic helps reveal how your employees treat customers and what a new customer experiences during a visit. You can work with trusted friends or family members, especially ones who have not visited the store before, or a reputable company. Mystery shopping scams exist, so be sure to look into whatever company you hire before you pay them.

Move your inventory according to interest. Implement requests from customer surveys. Photo Credit: ATA

Take Action

These strategies will help you identify shortcomings, detect problems and understand things from an outsiders perspective. But what good is collecting data if thats all you do?

You need to put that data to good use. Incorporate your observations and the customers opinions and evaluations to improve your shop and employee performance. Take the feedback and make changes that help customers see your business the way you do. This will help you remain relevant to consumers.

If customers struggle to find certain items, create an endcap or highlight the product sections with signs. If people struggle to find staff members, make sure employees are easily identifiable by having them wear a uniform or a name tag.

When someone perceives your shop positively, theyre more likely to return and to recommend your business to someone they know. Plus, theyll feel empowered and confident as they shop by themselves, allowing staff to spend their time cleaning, repairing equipment, providing lessons or responding to customers by email or on social media.

Questions? Contact Nicole Nash, ATAs manager of range and retail programs, at or (866) 266-2776, ext. 116.

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