Revelations this week from the world of retail have me shrugging my shoulders more than a monkey at a spelling bee.
It appears that an incredibly strange and unknown force is making women over 50 buy more clothes online, and less at brick and mortar stores.
This, according to research just released from Mediapost Communications, a media, marketing and advertising research company in New York.
600 women were surveyed about what clothes they buy, where they buy them and why.
13% of the women surveyed indicated they buy their clothes online exclusively - nowhere else. 66% said they do some of their clothes shopping online.
Wow - that's a real head-scratcher. And the numbers get even stranger.
84% of the women said the salespeople who wait on them are "indifferent, inexperienced, invisible or outright rude."
Hmm. I'm still not getting it. What's the correlation?
I tell you what - I'd like to ask any woman over 50 who is reading this post, if you'd like to talk about what these numbers mean, in person. We can meet at my place - whadaya say? Are you game? Great!
First, though, I need to lay down a few ground rules.
When you get to my door, don't expect me to answer it. Just come in and stand there and see if you can spot me. Not that I'll make the first move towards you and act like I'm excited to see you if I do see you! I mean, come on, let's be real - do you know how many women have come over and shared their viewpoint with me? Ha! I can't count that high! Honestly, you're just a number.
Plus I almost certainly won't be there to greet you anyway as I'll either be on the phone or busy folding laundry or dusting shelves or talking and laughing with a friend of mine who also lives in the house.
So basically it's going to be up to you to wonder around inside a space that's completely foreign to you but that I know like the back of my hand - until you find me.
Still want to come over and share information? Haven't lost you yet, have I? Okay, great!
Now after you've meandered around awkwardly looking for me, you'll probably eventually find me. And, depending on what I'm doing and how busy I am, I will spot you - assuming I'm not talking with someone who is probably more interesting than you are. I know how jealous you can be!
But instead of me acting like you actually belong in my house - even though we've agreed to get together to talk about the latest research on women over 50 and their apparel purchasing habits - I'm going to greet you as if we've never had this conversation, as if your presence is completely unexpected and not terribly welcome.
I'll demonstrate this by saying, "Can I help you?"
Boom! How will that feel? Won't you feel stupid when I say that to you? And I won't lessen the impact by smiling - in fact my body language will suggest just the opposite, that I'm miserable and would rather be somewhere else. Hey - you try being nice to people. It sucks!
At that point I'm going to let you answer the question - which will be one of the few times you'll actually feel like I'm listening to what you have to say. Not that it will matter because by that point I'll already have you figured out - come on, you don't think you're special, do ya? Remember, I've talked to a million women before.
Then it's on to my agenda.
From that point forward I will not ask you any follow-up questions, or act like I want to know more about what you think. Instead we'll make it about me, my agenda and my point of view. And let's not kid ourselves, that's what this is about, isn't it? What I think? Me, me, me?
I'll tell you how I feel about this research into why more women over 50 are buying online instead of shopping at brick-and-mortal stores. You just stand there and listen. And for giving you the privilege of my expertise and knowledge, all I ask from you in return is, no questions!
By the end of our time together, there will probably be other women in my house who will also be there to share their opinion but I know are really there to hear what I have to say on the subject - so I hope you understand if I don't have time to say "thanks for coming over" or "hope you have a great day" or smile and wave at you as you leave or any of that warm and squishy nonsense. And I won't show you to the door, either - I mean, you found your way in, didn't you?
The only other thing I ask is that you tell all your friends how smart I am and what a great time you had at my house. And if you were in some sort of bad mood when you came in and are letting that bad mood cloud your judgement so that you think you didn't have such a good time - well - just keep that to yourself, okay?
Otherwise, I can hardly wait to have you over. I know you're going to have a great time!
Of course there is another option for sharing your thoughts about this research on why more women are buying online...an on-line form. Yes you can just go on the internet and fill it out and you're done.
But I know you'd never go online and do that. It would be sooo much more fun for you to express yourself in person...
Jonnie Wright is a customer service evaluator and trainer, professional secret shopper, marketing strategist and host of "The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show," which airs Saturday mornings 8-9am, on 1350 KRNT. Email Jonnie at email@example.com.
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