Retail Cleaning: How to Wow Your Customers, Crush the Competition and Stay Relevant in the Age of Online Shopping

By Amy Milshtein

Vacuuming a spill
Rapid and complete spill removal with an OmniFlex system.

Retail cleaning is still important, even in the age of online shopping. Remember those think pieces that predicted Amazon and other on-line retailers would replace physical storefronts? Well, it turns out the reports of brick-and-mortar's demise were greatly exaggerated. 

True, online shopping is not going away. It's big business that will continue to grow. In 2017, online sales of physical goods amounted to 446.8 billion US dollars and are projected to surpass 700 billion US dollars in 2022, according to Statista. But computers, tablets and smartphones are not the only way we shop. Consumers today are omnichannel meaning we shop everywhere. We head to the store for some things, buy on line for others and often times do a little of both.  

This consumer behavior makes physical storefronts more important than ever. With so many places to shop, brick-and-mortar must have it all: knowledgeable and personable sales staff, shelves well stocked with attractive merchandise and a pleasant, inviting atmosphere. 

That's where retail cleaning comes in.  

Omnichannel Retail: The Future of Commerce

Omnichannel refers to a company with both a physical and digital presence. These savvy retailers know that nearly no one today makes purchases exclusively through a single medium. One survey from Imprint Plus found that 32.5% of respondents preferred to purchase on line, 29.7% prefer in-store, while the majority, 37.8%, preferred a combination of both. 

The consumer's state of mind plays a big role in what channel they choose. Are they 'buying' or 'shopping?' 

Buying, according to Steve Dennis in an article he wrote for Forbes, is 'mostly transactional. More mission, than journey. More search, than discovery.' He defines it as highly-value driven where speed, convenience and efficiency are most important. While one could 'buy' in a brick-and-mortar store, it's easy to see that 'e-commerce is optimized for buying.'

Shopping, on the other hand is, 'far more experiential,' says Dennis. It's about the process of exploring and discovering. Consumers can touch products, try them on and ask for opinions from friends or sales staff. 

For shoppers, the retail experience, including store cleanliness, is the key. 

What We 'Shop' For

Where do consumers who prefer brick-and-mortar shop? One survey found the most popular are: 

  1. Discount mass merchandisers like Walmart and Target (76%)
  2. Grocery retailers like Whole Foods (71.2%)
  3. Drug stores like CVS and Walgreen's (50%)
  4. Beauty supplies like Sephora (48.9%)
  5. Consumer electronics like Best Buy (48.9%)
  6. Hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowe's (44.10%)
  7. Department stores like Macy's and Nordstrom (37.6%)

These classic, old school retail outlets are being joined by their once online-only cousins. Warby Parker, the ecommerce eyeglasses retailer has 60 physical stores, Bonobos, the men's wear retailer has expanded physical locations too, as has clothing manufacturer Everlane. 

'We realized we need to have stores if we're going to grow on a national global scale,' says Everlane founder Michael Preysman to The Washing Post

What Makes a Successful, In-Person Retail Experience?

All of this change means the retail experience is more important than ever. Shoppers want a journey with delightful discoveries along the way. 

And a clean store. 

Store cleanliness plays an important role in where consumers shop. In fact, some shoppers seek out stores because of its reputation for clean interiors. Cleanliness is even more important in grocery and drug stores where shoppers will stop going to outlets that are not perceived as clean, according to a study by M/A/R/C® Research. 

Retail Cleaning: The Right Tools

A clean store creates the right impression. Shoppers enjoy the experience and workers feel valued. But getting and keeping stores clean presents some challenges. 

A busy store means lots of foot traffic. That's good for the bottom line, but hard on your floors.  Shoppers track dirt and debris in with every step. Combat the mess before it starts with a system of walk-off mats positioned outside your door and into the store. At least 15 feet of matting is recommended to do the job right. 

Rain, snow and ice add another challenge to keeping your store clean and bright. Puddles on the floor create a dangerous slip-and-fall hazards while melting road salts can damage flooring surfaces. Again, a good mat system will help trap water, snow and ice before it gets into the store, but any puddles should be cleaned quickly. 

Lots of people increases the chance of spills and accidents. Instruct staff to take care of these messes immediately before a small accident becomes a big slip-and-fall problem. 

And don't forget the importance of a clean restroom. Almost nothing hurts a store's reputation more than a dirty one while a clean facility shows dedication to the customer experience and build trust and loyalty. 

Shop owners can try to clean floors and restrooms with mops, buckets and rags but for better results get a Kaivac system. This advanced technology cleans floors and restrooms quickly and completely leaving surfaces completely dry and ready to use. They're easy to learn and fast to use so accidents and spills can be taken care of immediately and restrooms can always look great. 

Find out more about advanced retail cleaning here.   

Amy Milshtein

Amy Milshtein

Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines. 

Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.

She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.

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