A $5 ‘Just Looking’ fee – smart business or a potential killer?

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A Brisbane health food store have decided to charge customers what really is a $5 entry fee.  Call it a ‘looking fee’ if you like, but basically if you want to enter the store (and oggle the goodies) you will be charged $5 which the retailer will then deduct from any purchases you make at the register.  Is this good business?

The retailer wanted to stop the high volume of people coming into the store but not actually buying anything.  The retailer believes that people visit their store to oggle their goodies, then the goodie oggler heads home to purchase the products online.  I guess this makes the retailer feel a little used and abused?

So will Agent 99 boldly say that the retailer is undoubtedly wrong in this situation?  No actually, whilst I do believe it is one of the worst examples of customer service that I have ever seen, it is the retailers right to dictate how the customers treat their business.  I am forever telling my clients (anyone that cares to listen really..) “YOU teach your customers how to treat you”.

There are so many other tactics that could have been used to address this issue of “goodie oggling” or “show rooming” as the big boys like to call it!   How about providing anyone of the following or going for gold and providing all of the following?

  • Outstanding customer service
  • The retailer states that they stock products not available elsewhere, how about promoting that fact in a positive way
  • An online shopping site where those disgusting ooglers can ogle in the privacy of their own home (oh, and the business could actually compete with the online retailers stealing their sales)
  • Unique recipes using the ingredients in store – buy the ingredient to get the recipe (that is what us peeps in the biz like to call “value add”)
  • How about utilising a database of loyal customers to promote new products and specials in store?
  • What about a loyalty card that accumulates points towards product purchases
  • In store cooking demonstrations could be fun (that would be another “value add”)

I could go on and on.. but that would get boring.  My main concern for any retailer going down the road of “oogle charging” is that you deter new customers.  Current customers may be offended but maybe they are so loyal they are happy to pay the five bucks (I doubt it though).  The retailer has said they will not charge regular customers but I am not sure how you police that?  How many times have you walked in to a retail store to peruse the shelves with the hope of sparking a memory as to what you actually need?  I do it at Woolies all the time!  I am not about to risk $5 to jog my memory though.

I would really like to know what your thoughts as a consumer (dirty oggler) and business owner are?  Good idea or retail nightmare?

Melanie