CRINGE-WORTHY-01.jpg By Paul Farina

Walking into a retail environment, whether it is a butcher, a salon, a shopping centre boutique, or a cafe, th
ere are some sights I see which I know are hurting business results. I call these my “cringe-moments”. When I was a retail manager I swear that I would commonly have these moments every time I walked into my store.

Now, there is an element of being the fun police here, and for that I apologise, well… just a little bit. On the other hand high standards have never been so important, and apathy around this translates to the customer experience suffering, and therefore less return business and less money in the till.

Here are 5 of the most common and most cringe-worthy I see all too often:


Look at your frontage. Yes, stop reading and look at it now! If it needs a touch of paint, if there is a poster half hanging, or no window display at all then sort it out within the next 24 hours. This is your face and the body language of your business is crucial to make people welcome. Otherwise, you are encouraging people to walk on by.


Is it open? I am an eco-champion at heart and power conservation is dear to me, but high level lighting is a real priority in retail. Maybe a fluoro needs to be replaced, or a new light fixture needs to be installed, either way, light and bright is the name of the game. Beautiful products can look really dull without the right lighting.


Number one on the roles & responsibilities handbook that every staff member gets when they start in your business is that cleaning is mandatory. If your store is clean, then clean it more. Many retailers think their store is clean, but fresh eyes will commonly see things which you do not. If you have a team culture where cleanliness is not a top priority, please take action to change this. Remember that we eat with our eyes.


Out of date promotions and marketing is a common problem, even in larger businesses that should know better. New Year Sales in January or even February? Winter Warmers in August? New Lines just in, when they just aren’t new anymore?! If you don’t have a marketing schedule lined up at least six months in advance then this scenario will occur in your business. It is confusing for customers and staff alike. Also, keep promotions sharp, to the point, and easy to follow. If you can’t explain it in one sentence then ditch it.


The Point of Sale, or Cash & Wrap area is the central nervous system of your business. It can act as your reception, office, call center, and is of course where money is taken. Never under-estimate the importance of this area. Too often I see spare desks from the place I used to live/work-at being used for this area. Along with this, scanners don’t work, bags are not ready, till roll is empty, staplers missing, pens don’t work and cards/brochures are out-dated or have run out. I cringe when I see people fumbling about to put through a simple transaction. Avoid this at all costs people – it’s excruciating to watch from a customer point of view, and no fun for the staff member.

So, that’s it. Consciously, or sub-consciously your staff and customers are noticing many of these “Cringes” if they exist in your business. If you have none of them present in your business, then your business must be flying! The reality is that some of these will exist in your business all the time. When one is fixed, another needs attention. However, if you have tried to sort these out, but are having no success then engage an expert to help. One thing that is crucial – take your head-out-of the-sand if you’ve been living with some of these for a while. They hurt business results, and many make for a lowered enjoyment at work for the business owner, manager, or staff.

My motto is simple “Cringe and act, cringe and ACT!”.


Paul Farina

ARA Retail Institute & Fresh Eye Solutions



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