Posts Tagged ‘battlefield’

Inner Beauty, Ugly Folding

October 31, 2010

As I watch people shop, I get an idea or a glimpse of who they are inside. There are some people with perhaps compassion or sympathy, understanding or wisdom, whatever it may be, it affects how they shop in a retail store. Some customers browse throwing everything up into the air, destroying neatly folded piles, acting like clothing grenades. There are other people who carefully lift piles to find their size, and they attempt to put back the clothes the same way they found it–even if they don’t do it perfectly, they do try.

The beautiful folders may have worked in retail, often saying they used to and they totally understand how frustrating it is, and how chaotic it can be, especially with customers. Then there are those people who have no idea. Either they were born with a total disregard for the world of retail. Some people use shopping as an outlet for their irritation and stress. Some people see it as revenge for their time working in retail–now they don’t need to be the one folding. Others see it as the benefit of modern day slavery–these people are here to serve you, even if you buy nothing, so you might as well belittle them and use them to the extent of your money’s worth, you don’t need to give a damn.

This shows the depth of one’s inner beauty, which is often reflected in so many other places and ways. We watch all those television programs with people who try to look beautiful but in the end, you pity them, you hate them, you wish no good to them–they are jokes, because they don’t even know they are. As I walk around the store, and I watch the people throwing clothes around mercilessly, as if they were giants on a battlefield of gnomes, I kind of pity them for their lack of understanding–being able to see outside that one-foot shell that surrounds their ‘reality’. There is no guarantee those kinds of customers will buy more or less. Just as much as there is no guarantee a customer who is kind and nice will buy more. Yet, one customer will be far more enjoyable to work with, because you already know on the inside if they’re beautiful or not. The ugly ones are rarely the nicest people you’ll meet. The ugly ones really show how ugly they can be, once you start to help them.

One time, I left a fitting room with clothes I didn’t want, and the salesperson was amazed, saying, “Wow, you even folded it perfectly!” Yes, because maybe I’m beautiful on the inside. Or maybe I’m not some selfish moron who adds ever so slightly to the chagrin and nastiness, the bitterness and irritation of the world. Every one of us, every moment, has an opportunity or a chance to stop negativity, even in the smallest of ways. Very few of us realize this.

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The Art of War in Retail: Tactics- Good, Better, Best

May 30, 2010

Chapter 6
As with any battle, you can make decisions and choices which have an impact on your plan of attack–we can call it good, better, and best. A good attack is taking the Opposition by surprise. A better tactic is to do so under the cover of night. The best strategy would be doing so from higher ground.

Salesfloor- I say, on the battlefield, bad tactics involve ignoring the Opposition, allowing them to devastate your battlefield and your troops without mercy. A good General will at least meet the Opposition in honorable greeting as they enter the battlefield, so they know who you are. Better Generals will offer a parlay, using their skills to lower the cost of battle, and ensuring as much of a victory as possible; you do this by offering suggestions, using techniques and distractions to keep devastation to a minimum. Some of the best Generals directly engage the Opposition, cutting their loses extraordinarily, giving great customer service, building sales, putting clothes directly into the Opposition’s hands–by doing so, you pick your battles, and limit excess waste.

Fitting Room- The fitting room is often where one-on-one battles take place against Opposition Generals. It is like a battle in a valley full of caves. Many times, there are many casualties, and these casualties are often damaged beyond repair, never again to see the battlefield. Bad actions in the fitting room include ignoring the Opposition as they creep in, ignored, and they rape your Soldiers, leaving them battered, a wreck. Good is just acknowledging the Opposition as they enter the valley, and then pointing at an available cave–without seeing what the Opposition is carrying with them, or ways to win. Better is taking the Opposition and leading them to a particular cave and noting the Troops who are about to enter battle–by seeing what clothes they are carrying, you have an idea how to help them, what they are looking for, and other options that may be available to them; knowing what size they have is also an advantage to give you greater control over the situation. The best General will do this, and notice the troops, supplying reinforcements and other troops to enter the battle in order that you survive and win the battle–these people engage heavily, finding out as much as they can. Such wars may leave many Soldiers defeated, yet also helps to ensure that the Opposition doesn’t walk away empty-handed for their troubles. By finding out what you can about the Opposition, you find their weaknesses, how to defeat them, and triumph over their armies of cash and credit.

Any good General will observe closely the Opposition Generals as they enter the battlefield. This includes what they are wearing, how they dress, what they look at. This can also include direct engagement finding out what they are looking for, whom they are fighting-shopping for, and any other pertinent information, especially sizes. Such information is crucial and important as a way to outmaneuver and win successfully with as few losses as possible.

The Art of War: Tactics- Good, Better, Best

Chapter 6
Salesfloor- I say, on the battlefield, bad tactics involve ignoring the

Opposition, allowing them to devastate your battlefield and your troops

without mercy. A good General will at least meet the Opposition in

honorable greeting as they enter the battlefield. Better Generals will

offer a parlay, using their skills to lower the cost of battle, and

ensuring as much of a victory as possible. Some of the best Generals can

face the Opposition and have complete control over the battle, cutting

their loses extraordinarily, giving great customer service, and even

hand-picking which Soldiers must battle.

Fitting Room- The fitting room is often where one-on-one battles take

place against Opposition Generals. Many times, there are many casualties,

and these casualties are often damaged beyond repair, never again to see

the battlefield. Bad actions in the fitting room include ignoring the

Opposition as they essentially rape your soldiers and leave them battered,

a wreck. Good is just acknowledging the Opposition and pointing at the

battlefields that are available. Better is taking the Opposition and

leading them to a particular battlefield and noting the troops who are

about to enter battle. The best General will do this, and notice the

troops, supplying reinforcements and other troops to enter the battle in

order that you survive and win the battle. Such wars may leave many

Soldiers defeated, yet also helps to ensure that the Opposition doensn’t

walk away empty handed for their troubles. We too can attack their green

army.

The Art of War in Retail: The Opposition

May 28, 2010

Chapter 5
The Generals- The primary opposition is other Generals who lead their armies–cold cash, credit cards, and debit cards–into battle against your armies of clothes. It is critical that you use all your tactics and your terrain to your advantage. Your troops must be well folded, sized, and prepared for battle. Some Generals are easier to defeat, but some will cut up and defeat entire battalions of Soldiers–it is up to you to distract and move these Generals into new battlefields against Soldiers who can take more damage. Your primary goal is to take as few losses as possible before you capture their army of money–thus the greatest sales Generals engage in direct contact.

The Champions- These are key Generals, ones you can automatically notice as they walk into the battlefield. Some of these Champions have huge armies, with a fat wallet lined with designer accessories–they will buy up handfuls of clothes. Some of these Champions used the dirtiest tactics to defeat as many of your soldiers as they can, with as little damage to their armies as possible–these people search for super sales. Champions are often seen on the same battlefield many times, and many sales Generals can point them out in battle. The very worst Champions are the ones who come the most, and bring devastation in their wake, time and time again. These bad Champions confuse multiple sales Generals, destroy entire battlefields, and wreak havoc on the self-esteem and psyche of all who challenge them.

Siege or Parlay? Yet, even in this, there are some Generals and Champions that only come for parlay, they wish no siege, no prolonged wars. Some Generals will come with organized battle in mind–often called a shopping list–willing to trade equally in their army with your army. They are like Valkyries of Valhalla, taking your Soldiers to a better place, with the honorable death of battle on their breath.

The Opposition must be known and understood. Often, the best advice is to put yourself in their shoes, even if they rarely ever place themselves in your shoes. If you understand the Opposition, you can understand your place in the battlefield even better.

The Art of War in Retail: Distraction (Marketing and Selling)

May 28, 2010

Chapter 4
Distraction is the art of stalling, even redirecting Opposition as they enter the battlefield, often slowing them down, confusing them, and making them less wary of your advances.

Sale Signs- A great way to distract the Opposition, especially before and just as they enter the battlefield. These are visual aids prepared on the battlefield to move the flow of traffic in a certain direction, they can catch the eye, catch the interest and turn the Opposition’s attention in that direction. In this way, you can also fortify your troops in those locations before the Opposition arrives–because you are expecting their arrival. With knowledge of Terrain and Streams, you will also know where best to place Sale Signs. Many times this can turn a dead-zone into a place which says, “Hey, attack here!”

Sale Shouts- You can also ensure you win a battle by announcing a sale at the right time, depending on the skill-level of the Opposition such a tactic is very useful. Many cannot resist the lure of a sale. One of the best Code-words, or statements is, “This is very popular, we only have a few left, you better get it now, or it will be sold out later!” “I see you looking at these shorts, you should check out these, too, because they’re very popular and they just went on sale!” You give urgency and attention to the products you want, thus moving the flow of traffic. You may even bring one item to show them, like bait, attracting them elsewhere.

Displays and Mannequins- Visual displays are supposed to present the Opposition with a battle-plan which you are prepared for. Perfect outfits encourage the Opposition to attack where you want them to and what you want them to. In this way, you always want to make sure the best Soldiers are presented–troops you have a lot of and have trust they will sell–and when they are defeated and taken away, another Soldier must be ready and worthy of the replacement.

“Have you seen?” Homework- Often, when troops are devastated or their numbers are dwindling, a General must redirect traffic, altering the stream when possible. In this way, a General can take note of which Soldier is being attacked, and other possible troops who can take similar damage–is one cardigan running out, find the next best cardigan, and send the Opposition to battle against it. “Have you seen?” works very well at redirecting traffic. You are the General, and you should know best what Soldiers you have available, and when you should send those Soldiers into battle.

The art of distraction also comes down to noticing what the Opposition is wearing–their style, the colors–and pointing out similar options as a way to expand their wardrobe. Many people enter the battlefield revealing everything about themselves before they even speak–use their information to your advantage.

The Art of War in Retail: Flags and Signals

May 26, 2010

Chapter 3
Walkie-talkies- The best weapon of any General in battle. Walkie-talkies with headsets instantly send messages to others on the battlefield. Headsets help to keep communication private, and allows you to speak more clearly. Without a headset, you must develop more complex Codes in case the Opposition is listening. You can easily and quickly get others in motion to deal with situations and problems on the sales floor and registers by use of walkie-talkies.

Looks and Gestures- When engaged in battle, a General may need to rely on other ways of communication when speaking openly is not reasonable–most often when faced with the Opposition. Making eye-contact with another General on the field can help bring more reinforcements or supplies to ensure success. These looks must be understood beforehand, or a General may be left stranded and helpless, drowned by the Opposition. A strong, wide-eyed glare can often alert other Generals to the status of their colleague. Even using your eyes to point out something is useful. Gestures can also be used instead of Looks, although they are oftentimes more revealing in your intent; especially if you point, which is not often a good tactic to use. Many gestures can mean, “Save me! Bad customer!  or to say, ‘We don’t have any!’.” This includes a beckoning wave, a glare with a point, and shaking your hands in exasperation. Although this needs more training then walkie-talkie exercises, oftentimes this method is needed when engaging the Opposition.

Code-words- Many armies are prepared before battles with Code-words to mean anything from sales and discounts, to pointing out troublesome situations, such as shoplifters and unreasonable customers. Code-words are essential to verbal communication, as they only reveal a certain amount of information to the Opposition; yet they still provide more detailed information than gestures and looks. “The Benefit of the Doubt” can be one such code-word. “Can I get a manager to the cash register” is always a danger-sign, challenging the strongest Generals to come to battle. “Our friends are back,” can alert people to shoplifters. “These people need help,” when stressed differently can just mean they need help or mean they’re going to be a handful of trouble, so watch out!

Often, using a mixture of all of these techniques can create a streamlined cooperative system to deal with all situations like a well-trained army, which you are. You don’t ever want to end up in a situation, where you’re giving a Look, using a Code-word, and the other person is looking at you, asking, “What’s wrong with you?”

The Art of War in Retail: Terrain

May 25, 2010

Chapter 2
As the Opposition–customers–enter the battlefield, the terrain greatly affects the destination, the movements, and the actions of the Opposition. Understanding terrain, you have direct control of these movements. You can force the Opposition in a certain direction, you can choose where they go and what they do.

Mountains- Firstly, these are large, built structures, generally known as walls–they cannot move, thus the Opposition must move with or around them. In a sense, it traps them, because they cannot go around it. The Opposition cannot avoid you when next to Mountains. Secondly, these large landmasses are hard to climb and maneuver through–product is placed high, easily visible, but often attractive items are placed on these walls. Because of the sheer size of these masses, they are also effective at being seen from a distance–which is good for advertising and marketing. All traffic slows down at mountains, as some of the flashier and more amazing Soldiers–clothing–are displayed here. Very popular pieces of clothing are always placed on Mountains for this very reason.

Hills- Firstly, these are smaller structures–tables and other smaller, movable structures–thus easier to pass by the Opposition. Because of the size, the Opposition will go around these, and even move to avoid you when possible. Generally, high-selling product will be placed on the first Hills as you enter the store to take the initial bombardment–but Mountains will garner the main attention after this. Similar themed items will be placed on Hills. Hills can be totally engulfed by Opposition forces, as all parts are accessible. Because of the smaller size, the amount of Soldiers–clothing–present is much smaller. Yet, the devastation can be titanic, since Hills have only folded clothing and no hanging clothing.

Fields and Forests- Areas of light coverage, not as well suited for soldiers in a retail battlefield, these are racks and small tables able to take losses and keep on coming back–because they are less popular, or forgotten items, even ones that have a really high-price point. In a sense it is like a forest, because the Soldiers are well-hidden, and almost invisible. The Opposition must ‘want’ these items, thus they aren’t the hottest sellers–they aren’t items you’ll buy ‘just because’..

Streams- The course and movement of traffic will flow depending on how you set up the Mountains and Hills. This movement is Streams. You can diagram it as–the Opposition enters, they approach the initial Hill, then they face the Mountain, do they go to the next Mountain or another Hill? You can watch the ebb-and-flow understanding what is a popular destination and what is just forgotten. Once you get an idea of the flow of these streams, you will know where to position yourself, as General, to take care of your troops. You may also move Soldiers around: if one Hill is never attacked, you may move it closer to a Stream so the Opposition will pass by it; i.e. a Hill between two Mountains cannot be avoided. By moving very popular clothing to more remote locations, you know the Opposition will still search for it–because they want it. In this way, you have altered a Stream.

Using these tactics, you can appropriately prepare Mountains and Hills for battle. By watching Streams, you can choose what is best where. How will you develop your tactic? It depends on what it important to you. As a General and a Champion, you also learn where you want to be–in the back, watching your troops in battle, where no Opposition goes, ready to reinforce your troops or replenish them when defeated, or do you stand in the front lines battling the Opposition, helping to turn tides and moving them appropriately. Gaining skill and strategy in this area takes time, patience, and understanding. Once you do understand, you can make your entire Battlefield profitable, every Hill and every Mountain becomes a destination, and Streams will touch every shore.

Art of War: Retail

May 24, 2010

Chapter 1
For some of my trainees who wanted something more entertaining, more in-depth and dynamic–something to stop them from yawning during their first days, I developed the Art of War for Retail. I used to love the Art of War as a book, and how so many different people used it in business, management, and even love. It wasn’t very hard to translate it into the retail world, since it is so similar to a battlefield. Just imagine, at the end of the day, all the slain clothing laid in heaps, tired and exhausted salespeople, and the customer marching away in semi-triumph. Yet, we still win if they are leaving with something from our store, right?

As an introduction, you must consider the salespeople as Generals on a battlefield–which is the store. Their armies are the large array of clothing lined up and ready for the Opposition–customers. Each piece of clothing is a Soldier. The better trained your armies are, the better off you’ll be at the end of the day–this means having piles folded nicely, organized so they are sized properly, and enough of them to take hits all day long. The better warriors will take less hits before they are bought and carried off the battlefield. Once the customer makes it past the clothes and attacks you–you know you don’t have their size, or your product they want isn’t easy to find–thus you engage in hand-to-hand selling. You end up in parlay or under direct siege. You run for reinforcements, bringing out piles of soldiers to litter the battlefield. You may distract and disorient the Opposition, sending them in different directions against different armies you have at hand. As the battle rages, more and more casualties are piled up, wounded bodies are lying around, waiting for your gentle ministrations to bandage their cuts and get them back into the war. You are the recruiter, and many times, you pile and fold your own wins and losses. You may regret forgetting an insignificant pile if it ends up being your critical weak-point.

Now that you know the battlefield, and the units, you must understand the tactics that are needed to ensure victory every day! You must not only survive, but succeed! Welcome, to the Art of War: Retail.