Fragrance Shopping Irritations

Fragrance Shopping Irritations

I have very basic expectations of fragrance shopping. FRAGRANCE SHOPPING = BROWSING + DISCOVERY + JOY. Mostly, I get to experience this simple equation. However, there are certain situations that are guaranteed to rile me. Here are four of my top fragrance shopping irritations.

“I have very basic expectations of fragrance shopping. FRAGRANCE SHOPPING = BROWSING + DISCOVERY + JOY.”

What are your fragrance shopping irritations?

So many choices, but no testers to be seen, let alone smelt

A key part of the fragrance shopping journey is trying out new possibilities. This becomes impossible when there are no testers. A well-known (and struggling) clothing retailer in my local shopping centre has several walls’ worth of fragrances, but not a single tester. This has been the situation since the beginning of the year, when most of the testers were emptied in the Christmas shopping rush. Grrrrr!

Fragrance Shopping Irritations

A TESTING SITUATION: A good supply of testers is essential.

Being watched like I am a shoplifter

I know shoplifting is rife in South Africa, but there’s a fine line between discrete surveillance and downright stalking. I do a lot of my fragrance browsing before or after gym. Apart from a good fragrance, I’m very dress down for gym, which could explain some of the unwanted attention I receive. However, one of the basic tenets of making a sale is don’t judge a customer by what they wear.

Fragrance Shopping Irritations

SHOPLIFTER, MOI? This is as dressed up as I get when I am in gym-gear browsing mode.


Between the extremes of too much, overly eager, intrusive attention and (I must be wearing my Harry Potter invisible cloak) non-existent attention lies a happy medium of knowing how to read your customer. While a fair amount of customer service can be taught, some things are intuitive.

Fragrance Shopping Irritations

Not knowing your merchandise

I don’t expect sales assistants to know if and when a particular fragrance has been reformulated (unless if I am being VERY demanding due to low sugar levels). But not knowing the basics of the product they are selling (for example, family, accords and brief brand history) is one of the big fragrance shopping irritations for me. Sharing your knowledge of and passion for the world of fragrance is sure to impress me.

Fragrance Shopping Irritations

15 Replies to “Fragrance Shopping Irritations”

  1. I used the find the ignorance and arrogance of so-called assistants very upsetting back in the early 80s. They correctly assumed I couldn’t afford designer fragrances but forgot that there were people who would buy them for me.

    Now the Rosebank shop assistants are pretty good, I must say. They make even the impoverished senior citizens feel welcome. They know ziltch about the scents but are happy to let me try your latest recommendation

  2. Spot on comments – there are also some sale assistants that make up ingredients or the fragrance story as they have either forgotten the facts or have not been trained by the Brands. Sometimes I have really been impressed and amused by their creativity. Great images by the way. John

    1. Big thank you, John. I’m experimenting with a technique. I haven’t come across this variation you mention yet. I can imagine how funny that must be, as long as one doesn’t make a purchase based on that creativity.

  3. Loved this post and agree on all your gripes ! Shopping for fragrances leaves one feeling very much like you’re not good enough to be helped or you’re going to shoplift and definitely judged by your attire, in fact I’ve put that to the test on numerous occasions (shopping for clothing and my hair, makeup and clothing look good= fabulous service yet dressed in jeans hair pulled back sans makeup = no help!) and that isn’t just in SA! Interesting how peeps judge! But your number one gripe- testers!!! Where are they?- empty bottles on shelves aaagh!

  4. Hi, Richard!

    Great overview which is always a topical subject.
    I also found myself in some of the situations you described.

    Yes, everytime I am in a fragrance store, the lady in there will watch carefully every move I make. But at least she keeps her distance. This happens in those well-known worldwide retail shops. When I am in a niche fragrance shop, the situation becomes worse for me because the sales lady never lets me go. She gets almost glued to me and I cannot explore the scents for myself. When I put my hand on a bottle, she is trained to start exposing to me all the notes the perfume has. I am the opposite of you as I do not care about those information.

    If it were after me, I would create a store without personnel so that the customers could stay and explore everything they want, how much they need it, even the whole day.

    1. Thank you, Roxana!
      How much attention to give a potential customer is a very tricky one. Mostly, I like to do my own thing, but when I do want attention, then I do expect some basics.
      With automation on the rise, your idea about stores without staff could be on the way sooner than you think.

  5. Great post! I rarely go shopping at retail establishments because they so often offer annoying experiences just waiting to be had. You are spot on…

  6. Great topic! I thought about it and realized that I do not suffer from any of the issues you’ve described: I never go to the stores that do not have testers in open; I learned how to dismiss an extra-attentive SAs, I usually can find help when I need it, and I do not want/need any special information from SAs. What does irk me is when they volunteer information that is just not true (“it’s the latest one!” – about something released last year; “It hasn’t been reformulated!” – liar! I still have the previous bottle and can tell the difference) or plainly stupid. But in general I’m fine with my perfumes sniffing tours, and the absence of joy comes mostly from the quality of perfumes.

    1. Thanks Undina! Good to hear that you do not experience any of my gripes. I am also familiar with the one you mention. I have heard some creative ones when sales assistants have not been trained correctly.

I look forward to your comments.