Have you ever walked into a store and immediately been bombarded by staff asking if they can help you? Without name dropping, a few certainly come to mind.

Research conducted by DisplayMode, a leading point-of-sale company, shows that 89% of shoppers are put off or bothered by in-store sales assistants.

Personally I despise nothing more than entering a store and being pounced on by employees within the first 3 seconds of being there. If anything, it makes me want to leave the store without purchasing anything.

While I understand that most staff across various stores are under pressure by management to assist customers, management don’t seem to understand how off-putting this can be from a customer perspective.

Sephora, seeing the issue, have upped their customer experience game and received widespread praise for their new colour coded basket system which is being trialled in certain European stores. Customers who wish to be assisted with their purchases can take a red basket, informing staff that they are open to help,  while customers who wish to be left alone can take a black basket, notifying staff that they would not like any assistance.

Twitter user Cami Williams (@cwillycs) photographed the display of baskets in a European Sephora store and tweeted, “There is a fellow introvert on the Sephora customer experience team who deserves A RAISE RIGHT NOW”.


The tweet went viral with over 240,000 likes and 58,000 retweets. Other Twitter users commended Sephora for their forward thinking and even tagged a few prominent rival stores suggesting that they should implement this idea as they no longer visit their stores due to their “over-attentive” sales assistants.

However, other Twitter users were quick to point out that the colour coded basket strategy has already been adopted by Innisfree. The Korean skincare brand successfully rolled out the baskets in 2016 across some of its stores.

As a part-time customer assistant myself, it is painfully obvious when a customer is bothered by being approached by staff. So why continue to do it? Why not let the customer decide what sort of interaction they would like to have instore and therefore have a better experience? An enjoyable experience will result in the customer continuing to shop in a particular store, being hounded by staff will drive customers to other stores.

Upon first seeing Cami Williams’ tweet, I thought that the colour coded baskets were a genuinely customer focused strategy.

It wasn’t until I read a comment on the thread that I started to think more about how the colour coded baskets may benefit Sephora as well as their customers…

“And from a marketing standpoint, this puts a basket in the hands of people who may have only planned to window shop. A win for the customer and the store.”

Another Twitter user agreed, stating that the basket ‘changes the narrative from “no thanks, I’m just looking” to “I’m shopping on my own”’.

So, was Sephora really thinking about solo shoppers and introverts by introducing their colour coded baskets? Or was it a marketing plan to get someone who only popped in for one item to grab a basket, encouraging them to make more purchases? I know that if it was me, I would grab the black basket so as not to be interrupted by staff and end up unintentionally filling the basket with products that I had no want or need for when going to the store in the first place.

Either way, given the reaction to the baskets on Twitter, no matter what Sephora’s intentions may have been, someone is getting a raise…


Chantelle McKeever is a Final Year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: Twitter- @ChantelleMcKee5