The problem you share with Selfridges

I don’t know whether you’ve ever been to Selfridges in the West End of London?

Selfridges has a lot of entrances. It has entrances all along its face on Oxford Street. There are 5 of them. Depending which of them you choose, you will enter the store to find yourself confronted by handbags, fragrances, fashion jewellery, watches or sunglasses.

It has entrances all along its face on Duke Street. There are 3 of those. Enter this way and you’ll be greeted by handbags or women’s fashion.

And there are 4 doors on its face on Orchard Street. These will present you, on entering, with jewellery and fine wine, a brasserie or the Food Hall.

It also has a car park, and 3 entrances which open directly from the car park into the store. Enter this way and you’ll be standing in the Starbucks in-store concession, or men’s fashion, or women’s shoes.

Now imagine being Head of Merchandising at Selfridges.

You could take the view that while you have 15 entrances, bringing people into the store face to face with 12 different kinds of merchandise, you aren’t going to give a second thought to any entrance other than the main one on Oxford Street because “That’s the Main Door”.

You could say that. You could just wish that everyone would come in through that door, because that’s the way you wish they would.

If you did that, you really wouldn’t need to think so hard about what you put inside all of the other entrances. You could place quite dull merchandise there, because no-one would be forming their first impression based on what they found there.

You wouldn’t have to worry so much about displaying good signage to help people find their way into the rest of the store from each of these places, because you’d be imagining that no-one was going to enter through these doors.

Your life would be easy…in your own little world where all your visitors come in through the door you have chosen for them.

But let’s do some maths. 15 entrances. If we guess that the grand main entrance on Oxford Street accounts for 30% of all entrances to the store, then the other 14 account for 70%. If you ignore those entrances and pretend everyone comes in by the front door, 70% of your visitors will be greeted by disarray, poor display and inadequate signage. They might not buy so much.

Now, fortunately, you are not the Merchandising Manager at Selfridges with a store full of visitors coming through 15 entrances to worry about each day.

But if you have a website, with customers finding their own way into it via a page chosen for them by Google in response to whatever they happened to search for, it might just pay you to think as if you were.