Are You Confusing Customers? Here’s What to Do About it!

by | Nov 3, 2022

If you were to check into a hotel with a big sign outside boasting a luxurious, heated pool, you’d probably be pretty confused to see strict “Do Not Swim in Pool” signage hanging inside the lobby.

Similarly, when shoppers enter your retail store, they shouldn’t feel confused about the products and/or services you offer. If they do, you’re sure to encounter customer complaints and dissatisfaction, as well as a decrease in sales.

Here are 5 ways The Retail Doctor says you might be confusing customers, and what you can do about it:

1. In Your Visual Merchandising

  • Displaying too many similar products that overwhelm the shopper
  • There’s nothing to help shoppers distinguish between your products (other than price)
  • You feature displays with lots of unrelated products

The Fix: 

  • Reduce walls of product into smaller display units
  • Make sure the relationships between your products are obvious
  • Create signage that enhances and clarifies your displays

If your displays are confusing customers by not making it clear exactly what you’re selling and what you want them to do about it, your merchandising isn’t doing its job.

The whole point of a retail display is to draw your customers to it, suggests DotActiv. You want your displays to compel customers to buy your products because they see something appealing.

2. On Your Website

  • It looks awesome, but it’s not easy to navigate or use
  • There’s way too much clutter and not enough direction
  • It resembles your competitor’s site

The Fix:

  • What do you want your site visitors to do? Join your newsletter list? Search for a Product? Lead them down the path you want them to take, and make it as convenient as possible to get there
  • Reduce distractions so they can see what’s really important. Provide simple, specific calls to action
  • Be unique. Make your brand memorable so becomes top of mind to your visitors, over other competitor sites

Your website is a tool for driving traffic and sales both online and in-store. Make sure it’s well-organized, easy to navigate, clear/concise, modern yet functional, and branded. Your site should motivate visitors to do business with you. It should help users find quick answers to their questions or quick solutions to their problems. Make it straightforward and easy for them!

3. With Your Customer Service

  • Your sales associates use jargon your shopper may have no understanding of
  • Your employees overwhelm shoppers with more information than they want or need to decide on and make a purchase

The Fix:

  • Train employees to master the art of explaining the most important elements of your products or services to a total stranger who knows nothing about your company or what it offers
  • Teach sales associates how to ask the right questions to discover customer needs and wants quickly and efficiently
  • Walk first-time shoppers to the area of the store where they’ll find the products they’re interested in

It doesn’t do you any good to have shoppers in your store if you don’t know how to convert them into customers. Sales associates must be able to make customers feel welcome and valued in the retail environment so they can ascertain their needs and guide them through the path to purchase.

4. In Your Signage

  • No directional signs in your store to help shoppers find their way around
  • The merchandise display signs don’t clearly communicate product information, pricing, and benefits to your customers

The Fix:

  • Make sure signage includes directional and departmental information to help shoppers move around the store on their own
  • Create signage that highlights the benefits shoppers need to know to make a purchasing decision

All of your in-store signage should be created with a single goal in mind: to improve the customer experience. Directional signage helps shoppers navigate your store to reduce frustration and guide customers to the products they wish to see.

In-store signage also increases product awareness, helps promote sales, and educates customers on key benefits of the products and services offered by your company. In other words, internal signage is an essential tool in driving sales while the customer is present in-store.

5. With Your Marketing & Promotions

  • Promotional signage and printed marketing materials are misleading (use an asterisk after a “20% off everything in the store” sign or in an ad which then denotes exceptions in tiny print)

The Fix:

  • Recognize that a reasonable person will assume the word everything means everything. Don’t try to hide the truth in the fine print

Your marketing needs to be transparent to avoid confusing customers and causing frustration. It also needs to be simple and straightforward to get results. Make it as easy as possible for your audience to understand your promotional content and complete the desired action.


Confusing customers can negatively affect efforts to grow your customer base and increase sales. Once shoppers enter your brick and mortar store, it’s essential that you provide them with direction, suggests The Retail Doctor.

Your website, merchandising, marketing messages, and signage all play a part in that, too, so it’s important to make sure each of these areas provides a consistent and seamless experience.

Remember, confusing customers loses the sale.

Look around your store and identify pockets of confusion in your signage, merchandising, and sales processes, then adjust your sales strategy to eliminate anything that doesn’t help your shopper navigate your retail store with ease and lead them to make a purchase.

To learn more, visit Thriftcart.