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Find the Best Retail Stores

by ConsumerAffairs Research Team

Retail stores provide consumers with a variety of products and brands for everything from everyday items to more significant purchases like electronics and home appliances. Use our guide to research the best retail store for you. We explain what to look for to find retailers that offer convenience, selection and deals on a wide range of products. Retailers can sell one brand, many different brands or products from multiple categories, such as home improvement or electronics, so it is essential to look at what each store has to offer.

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What features matter most in a retail store?

What kind of selection do retail stores offer?

Variety in brands, products and departments are important, especially in a department store. Many consumers use department stores as a one-stop-shop to purchase things like groceries, clothes and home decor items. For name-brand retailers, it is important to have a wide variety of all products manufactured by that brand.

  • Brands: To attract consumers, department stores must offer a broad variety of brands. Many people are loyal to specific brands or just want to see the best deal available for certain products.
  • Departments: Having multiple departments selling different categories of products increases the likelihood of consumers shopping exclusively at one store. Department stores with grocery, electronics, apparel and auto departments can cater to multiple consumer needs in one store.
  • Name-brand retailers: Specific brand retailers should offer consumers a full selection of the products they manufacture.

What online shopping features should retailers offer?

Most retailers offer online shopping in addition to their brick-and-mortar locations, or they’re making the switch to be a full-time e-commerce business. Online shopping is a convenient way to shop without having to go anywhere and often results in big savings through online promotions.

  • Mobile website option: If a retailer offers online shopping they should have a website that is optimized for viewing on mobile devices. In many cases, a retailer has a mobile application designed exclusively for online shopping with their company.
  • Competitive shipping prices: The cost of shipping is important to monitor, especially on bigger items. Shipping can sometimes determine if it is worth ordering a product online or purchasing it in a store. Free shipping is a common feature to look for when you are shopping online.
  • Security: Anytime a website asks for personal information, make sure that the site is secured by looking for the “https” in the URL prefix on a website (the “s” stands for secure).
  • Product description/reviews: Since online shoppers can’t physically touch or try on items, it is important for companies to include detailed descriptions and reviews for products on their website.

What kind of promotions do retail stores offer?

Whether shopping online or in a store, promotions are a great way to get consumers to go shopping. Retailers are constantly offering deals, sales and promotions online and in-store. Many stores have newsletters people can subscribe to that contain promotions and weekly sales.

  • Seasonal: Department stores and apparel retailers typically offer seasonal promotions each time the season changes. Winter clothes, for example, will go on sale starting in late winter or early spring to make room for spring and summer apparel.
  • Clearance: Clearance sales consist of outdated products or items that will be slightly altered with a new upcoming model. Consumers typically find items in a clearance sale that are marked very low and are only a year old.
  • Specialty sales: Specialty sales can be found in all types of retail stores and include things like back-to-school sales, holiday sales or sales at the beginning of each sports season.

What customer service options do retailers offer?

A customer service department that values each customer and maintains satisfaction levels will go a long way in customer retention. In today’s retail world, customer service techniques have adapted to be used in-store and online for e-commerce retailers. Features like simple returns and live-chat make sure a customer is satisfied throughout their entire experience.

  • Returns: Having a hassle-free return experience is key for customer service departments. Whether it be in-store or online, a simple return policy can make a big difference in customer retention. Most companies only require proof of purchase and a valid reason for returns.
  • Live-chat: Live-chat is a fairly new customer service feature for e-commerce websites. Live-chat software lets customer service agents interact with website visitors while they shop online. They can answer any questions or address any issues that come up in real-time.
  • Expediency: The faster the service, the happier the customer will be. Customer service agents should be efficient without trying to brush off customer problems.

What are the different types of retail stores?

Department stores

Department stores offer a wide range of products located in different departments of the store. They carry everything from groceries and home decor, to electronics and vehicle supplies in the same store.

Name-brand stores

Name-brand stores are companies that only sell the brand they design, manufacture and market. Examples of name brand stores are Nike, Adidas, Abercrombie and Fitch and Gap, Inc.

Home Improvement stores

Home improvement retailers provide homeowners with home improvement products, equipment and appliances. They are a popular place to go to for lawn and garden equipment, electrical and plumbing supplies, interior fixtures and, in some cases, lumber.

Jewelry stores

Jewelry stores carry high-end luxury jewelry or more affordable jewelry, depending on the brand. They focus on products such as necklaces, watches, bracelets and rings that contain gold, silver or precious stones like diamonds.

Sporting goods stores

Sporting goods stores sell apparel and equipment for all sports and outdoor activities. Consumers can find items like jerseys, balls, helmets and sports equipment, as well as hunting, fishing, camping and backpacking equipment.

Electronics stores

Electronic store retailers carry electronics for homes, businesses and automobiles. Their products include brand-name TVs, cameras, computers, speakers and home-theater systems.

Who shops at retail stores?

Families

Retailers provide families with a one-stop shopping experience or a focused shopping experience for everything from clothing and footwear to grocery items and home decor.

Homeowners

New and seasoned homeowners can visit stores that specifically cater to selling items you need in and around the house like home appliances, decor, lawn equipment and accessories.

Gift shoppers

Consumers looking for a specific gift can take advantage of specialized retailers like sporting goods-, jewelry- and electronics-specific stores.

Outdoor enthusiasts

People who hunt, fish, camp, backpack or bike can shop for equipment, apparel and replacement parts at stores that cater specifically to outdoor enthusiasts.

Sports/exercise enthusiasts

Consumers who play or coach sports can shop at stores that focus on sports apparel and equipment for things like jerseys, balls, helmets and other protective gear. Likewise, exercise enthusiasts can shop for comfortable apparel, exercise machines and equipment.

Not sure how to choose?

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    Compare Reviews for Top Retail Stores

    by ConsumerAffairs Research Team

    The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.

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