Clothing Retailer Misses Word of Mouth Opportunity
This weekend I took @mariagarcia to Soho to show her one of my favorite shops in the neighborhood. I had discovered it a week ago and wanted to go back with her to capture a few photos I could use in a blog post proclaiming my love for the brand. While we shopped, I snapped a few photos of elements of the in-store experience that stood out to me... until I was interrupted by a store clerk who informed me that "it is against store policy to allow customers to take photos in our store." Although I assured her that I was not some kind of spy sent from a competitor but was a blogger taking photos to show readers (who might not otherwise get to see a store that's only located at the moment in NY, TX and CA and has a rather limited online shopping experience) why I loved it, she told me that I'd need to contact the corporate office and get clearance to do so.
I was really annoyed. By this point, I'd personally spent a considerable amount of money as a customer, had brought my friend along to do the same, and was going to invest time and space on my blog to show readers how much I enjoyed the brand. I imagined that the corporate office was, at the same time, probably meeting to strategize methods of pitching bloggers or getting customers like me to become brand evangelists. They were spending money at a macro level to plan, and yet, at a micro, in-store level, I was literally being prevented from doing the very thing they were most likely working to promote.
The clerk was nice, and really just doing her job to enforce a policy her bosses had given her. And although I respected policy and turned off my camera, it really left me thinking, something's gotta change! We live in a world where companies more than ever hope to see customers share WOM about their brands; at the same time, we as customers have more devices that allow us to instantly do so. Yet, in-store, we're told to turn off our cameras, camera phones, Flip Videos... and to clear our instinct to spread WOM with the corporate office. I met other retailers that day who were happy to have me take photos and speak with them about the brand. You'll be seeing my blog posts about them later this week.