Nobody’s perfect. Grammar errors, misspellings, and other communication snafus aren’t limited to the digital world. Store signage and displays that get it wrong occur every day, and if you’re ‘lucky’, a customer will snap a picture and share it online tagged #RetailFail.
As Forbes magazine reports, #RetailFail includes the expected share of misplaced apostrophes and misspellings – mess up just one letter in the word “Duck” and watch the internet go crazy – as well as more serious customer complaints. One customer used #RetailFail to document an hours-long drama where his mother’s couch failed to be delivered as promised.
The saying there’s no such thing as bad publicity only goes so far. If you’ve gotten caught in a #RetailFail moment, it can be an overwhelming experience. These posts are often funny, and it’s not unusual for them to be shared thousands of times. Retailers who have been in this spot report feeling a mix of emotions, including embarrassment, shame, and anger.
No matter what you’re feeling, what has happened has happened. The first thing to do is to correct the situation if it hasn’t been addressed – this goes both for displays gone wrong and disgruntled customers. The second is to let it go as much as you can: there’s no effective way to remove or erase pictures from the internet in most cases. If the issue in question centers around a customer service concern, you may want to create a response addressing how the issue was successfully resolved to use as needed on your website and social media. In the case of poorly spelled signage or unfortunate design choices, it’s more important to focus on not making a repeat appearance on #RetailFail.
The easiest way to do this is to implement a policy where all signs & displays are checked by somebody other than the person who set it up before it’s seen by the public. Everybody needs an editor, and a second set of eyes can see things that the first person missed. We also recommend having an employee or trusted friend with a really twisted sense of humor review things – catching the inadvertently sexual, scatological, or inappropriate meaning in a display or signage can save a lot of online embarrassment.