Posts Tagged ‘discount’

Socratic Retail Method

July 11, 2010

Introduction
Mentor: Tell me, when you work in retail, where do your paychecks come from?
Pupil: Your employer?
Mentor: Yes, but where do they get the money to pay you?
Pupil: Hmm. They get money from money they make?
Mentor: Very good. How do they make this money?
Pupil: By selling the product they carry.
Mentor: What if they do not make money selling goods?
Pupil: Then they have no money to pay their employees. But if they make a lot of money, where does that go?
Mentor: Ah, you are getting ahead of yourself, my pupil. It is true, if they make more money, one thing they can do is hire more workers.
Pupil: Why?
Mentor: The more money they make generally means they need more help to produce–more people to unpack and replenish clothing, more salespeople to sell, and more cashiers to take the money.
Pupil: Oh, I see.
Mentor: Although each aspect is important, what part do you think is more critical? The replenishment, the salespeople, or the cashiers?

Cashiers
Pupil: The cashiers.
Mentor: Truly?
Pupil: No?
Mentor: What do cashiers do?
Pupil: They take money from the customers, and this money is used to pay the workers.
Mentor: What influence do cashiers have upon the customers?
Pupil: They take the money.
Mentor: Do they help customers find products or fill their needs? Do they help build the sales?
Pupil: No, I do not think so.
Mentor: Although there are very skilled cashiers who can add-on to sales, and generally, they do not directly interact with more than one customer at a time. They cannot multitask multiple customers at once.
Pupil: This is true. Do they not also offer discounts and coupons which also decrease the amount of money made?
Mentor: Very good, you have kept up with your studies. Cashiers have the duty and responsibility to lower the amount customers spend, thus lowering the total profits. This done multiple times, through many transactions can have an overwhelming effect on total profits–imagine if they gave 15% off all transactions. Cashiers have an important role at the end of the process, because without them, we could not complete transactions, but they are not most critical to the success of selling.

Stock
Pupil: What of the stock-people, they are the beginning of the story, without them the product cannot even be found.
Mentor: Yes, they are important. They unpack the clothing, preparing it for the floor. They replenish the clothing when it gets low. Without them, supplies run low. But how do they directly influence the customers?
Pupil: I do not know.
Mentor: Even with a fully stocked table, that does not directly entice a customer to buy anything. It is like a piece of art in a museum to look at, but you need someone there to guide you through the painting, to understand what you are looking at.

Salespeople
Pupil: So the salespeople are important?
Mentor: In retail, which people often receive commission as a part of their job: the salespeople, the stock-people or the cashiers?
Pupil: The salespeople.
Mentor: Why?
Pupil: Because they directly interact with the customers, helping them to find product they are interested in, building outfits and adding-on product before the customer gets to the cashier. And many salespeople are skilled at multitasking multiple customers at one time.
Mentor: Very good. Customers have already made a majority of their buying decisions before they even reach the cashiers. And with discounts, coupons, and other additions, which subtract from the total sale, cashiers have less impact on increasing sales compared to salespeople.
Pupil: And salespeople can ask stock-people to help find product that is missing on the sales floor.
Mentor: Yes.
Pupil: Do salespeople receive credit for these actions?
Mentor: In some businesses, they do receive commission. Or they receive acknowledgment for their sales above and beyond the normal. The salespeople work hard get to know customers, to add-on sales, to bring profits directly into the store so the cashiers, the stock people and other salespeople can be paid for their labor. They can directly influence a customer that is ‘just looking’ into someone who ‘spent more than they expected’. They directly help customers that don’t know what they are looking for. They help customers find the perfect gift for a loved one, and something extra for the customer, too. They bring additional value to each customer that makes a purchase.

Query 1
Pupil: But is there not businesses that only recognize cashiers for giving discounts to customers? They receive acknowledgment for lowering the store’s profits. Why don’t the salespeople get acknowledgment for building the sale which got the customer to the cashier?
Mentor: If you were a salesperson who worked hard, building up a sale, getting to know a customer and making sure they left happy, how would you feel if you were dismissed and forgotten, and a cashier is recognized for signing someone up for a credit card and giving them a discount off of your hard work?
Pupil: I would be saddened and demoralized. I would feel like my work isn’t worth anything. Why do cashiers get recognition for every credit card they get, but salespeople do not get recognized for every single sale they make? They are the ones helping fill people’s paychecks and keeping them employed!
Mentor: Calm yourself, my pupil.
Pupil: I am calm. It just doesn’t make sense. It is illogical.

Query 2
Mentor: What happens when a cashier is processing a card or giving additional discounts that take a long time to process?
Pupil: Salespeople are asked to cashier? They must back-up the registers.
Mentor: Yes, and what happens to the customers that are ‘still looking’ or need help finding products?
Pupil: They are left ignored and forgotten? So the sales floor is left empty, while everyone is at the cash registers, customers are left with no one to help them…
Mentor: Yes, go on. What happens?
Pupil: So the remaining customers will buy less?
Mentor: And many may leave because they did not receive ‘customer service’, all the while this happens, all the additional manpower is taken to the cash registers for the sake of giving an additional discount.
Pupil: And the ripple of one discount means less money for the store… And by the time the line of buying customers is gone, there are no customers left in the store who need help, because they are not going to wait for a salesperson that isn’t there when they needed help.
Mentor: Yes. But if people are only given credit and recognition for giving discounts, and signing up credit cards, and no recognition is given for making sales, would not all the effort go towards the cashiers? And effort towards selling would diminish.
Pupil: Why would any business do this? They would be choking the life out of their own sales. It would be like Ouroboros, the dragon who swallows his own tail. A business like that cannot hope to be successful.
Mentor: What business would be successful?
Pupil: One that prioritizes selling. One that emphasizes and recognizes salespeople as critical and crucial to the life of the store. A business that knows and understands selling and the skill of adding to sales is more important than giving discounts.
Mentor: Very good. That is why we went through this exercise. Hopefully you understand a little more about selling now.

Mentor:
Pupil:
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Find it, Find it!

July 10, 2010

I’m walking around, minding my own business; I’m also working, which means my business is dealing with customers.
“Excuse me,” a woman comes up behind me.
I greet her, and she says she’s interested in this shirt she saw. I walk with her to find the shirt, which is now on sale. She’s excited, asking me to please find it, because she wants it very badly. I search through our sale wall, but I find nothing. Nothing is in her size, and the mannequin is wearing a shirt too large. She asks me to check in the back, because she wants it really badly. If I need to, she also wants me to call other stores, just in case. She has to have it!
I search in the back, and there it is, hiding. I bring it back to her, triumphant. She cheers and claps. She’s so happy to have the shirt. She looks at it, finally holding the shirt we’ve been looking for. She looks at the price-tag and looks at me. How much is it?

I go to the register and scan the price. It’s about $30, and I tell her this.
She looks at me, looks at the shirt, then pushes it at me.
“Nevermind, I don’t want it.” Then, she leaves.

If I were a knight errand slaying a dragon for my princess, only to be rejected after I succeed in this titanic endeavor, I think I’d go princess slaying instead.

Customer Types: Capitalist, Micromanagement

Not Sale

July 7, 2010

One day, during a major Holiday sale. We were overwhelmed by the sheer number of sale-mongers that came out of their anti-social chamber-caves to shop. The entire store was turned upside-down, shook around, and left a disaster. I work quickly and efficiently to try and maintain order; I consider it a game. Can I put clothes out faster than customers can try it on and destroy it? On days like this, I have no chance.

So I’m holding a large pile of folded clothes, and I have to put some away. The only open space is this huge table which was once full of clothes, which are now in nasty piles, falling on the floor. I place the pile down quickly, assuming I have about five seconds time to put the sale items on this table; the rest of the clothes is full-priced waiting for relatively untouched homes.

Immediately, two or three hands reach out and start to fumble through my beautifully folded pile. I yell, “There aren’t sale items, they are full-priced!” In a matter of moments, the hands disappear, the clothes falls back down, and the monsters disappear, looking for weaker, cheaper prey to devour. Moments like these teach you something about sale-mongers, and how to control them better.

Customer Types: Capitalist, Lowered Expectations, Piggies

Trying Hard to Be Mad

July 6, 2010

I’m folding, while nearby an angry, red-faced wife is trying to control her young son and daughter, who are jumping around, yelling and screaming. Her husband and mother (or mother-in-law) comes up to her saying what great deals they just got.
The husband comes up showing her a bag full of clothes, “Wow, honey, we had such a great deal!” He lifts up his son, and the daughter runs to the grandmother.
“Well, how much did you spend?” The wife asks flatly, unimpressed.
“It was under $40 for the whole lot,” the older woman replies.
The wife looks perturbed, “Well what did you get?”
“Those shirts we showed you, they were only five bucks! We got several of them in all.”
“Yeah, it was unbelievable, you have to check it out!” He tries to point out some clothes to her.
She sighs, asking angrily, “Did you even get a good color? You didn’t get a good color, did you?”
He shows her some of the colors. She looks at them and just shakes her head.
Again, unimpressed, she says, “They didn’t even have black or gray in your size?”
“Yes, they did,” he pulls them out to show her, “All of them were under $5.”
She rolls her eyes, “Oh, whatever, let’s just go.”
The husband tries to show her some of the good deals, and she turns around leaving the store.
“Honey! Where are you going?”
“We’re leaving, now!”

Gosh, she’s so lovable, I can see why he fell for her.

Customer Types: Big Baby, Guessing Game, Lowered Expectations, Unapologetic

Dot Sale

July 4, 2010

A couple enters from the children’s section. They have different promotions than we do, so I decide to tell them.
“Hello, we have additional sale on adult sale product!”
The woman turns to me, and half-shouts, “WAIT!” There is a moment of silence. I was expecting her to be all surprised, asking if she heard me right or something. “Did you just say Dot sale or Adult sale?”
My face goes blank. I have no words to say. I know the proper response is, “Oh, why yes, I did say Adult Sale.” Instead, my face must say what I’m thinking, “Why in all the world would I say Dot sale? What the hell is a Dot sale? Who even says Dot sale?” Seriously?
Her husband, bluntly, answers for me, as he pushes her along, “He said Adult sale.” You know, there are times your spouse makes you embarrassed you married them. This is one of those times.

Customer Types: The Deaf, The Dumb, Rhetorical

Bad English, You Heard What?

July 3, 2010

A customer comes to the cash-register. I start to scan the items, and she stops me.
“The whole store not on sale?” She speaks some English, but it’s not precise; she has a strong Chinese accent.
I look at her, blankly, “No, only sale-items have an additional discount.”
“No, the whole store is on sale.”
I just stare blankly, saying nothing.
“He said everything on sale.”
I wait for the inevitable, holding my breath. The only ‘he’ workers are standing next to me at the cash-register. So I roll my eyes in my mind, and I ask, “Who?” I actually expected her to point at me, but she trails her hand and points at the manager standing several feet away helping some one.
I chuckle a little, telling her, “It can’t be him, he just reminded us that sales items have additional discount, not regular priced items. It’s not him.”
“No, he said. He said.”
“I’m sorry, sale items have additional discount. Full-priced items are full-priced.”
There is some banter between herself and I, with her husband standing back–even though he’s about a foot-taller and several tens of pounds heavier, he’s obviously not in charge. The hard part is that I’m supposed to believe she ‘heard correctly’ that everything is on sale, while she’s speaking in broken English. I can more easily believe she translated what was said incorrectly.

Later, I tell the manager about the woman, and how she pointed right at him. And as expected, he said he never said such a thing, and she probably heard him wrong. He asked why I didn’t call him, and I told him I’m not one of our whiny co-workers who have to call a manager for everything, “Oh, I need back-up, help me!” I can handle myself, unless I don’t feel like it, then I’ll call a manager, and then slip away into the night.

Customer Types: Learn the Language

Retail Law

June 27, 2010

It is said within Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” Though not the best adage of choice, it was the easiest to find.

I know not the name of this law I have in mind, but there is always that one idiot that will misinterpret or incorrectly read something. Don’t Get Me Wrong, Part 2 is a good example of this theory. For there shall always be that one person that misreads a sale sign, after it’s been up for several days, and cause all sorts of problems, where coworkers run around like chickens without a head, managers become aware and alert like dogs smelling bacon, and I am left rolling my eyes that one stupid person can cause this much trouble.

I myself have learned to deal with these people appropriately, without calling the entire store for help. Just the other day, and old woman comes up with a hat. She places it calmly on the counter, as I scan it. She looks at the price, and I’m already ready for her reply.

“What? This isn’t on sale?” She sounds like she’s just found out her diamond ring is zircon.
“No, this is full price.”
“But the sign,” she points vaguely in the direction where I know the hat is. It has sat there for over a day, near our signs announcing the store sale–‘Take an additional blah-blah percent off all sale items!” Hurray for sales, right? They do bring the best of the people out of their caves into the bright lights of society, which they have so little normal, proper interaction with. Those people who lack social skills. Those people who are only brought out by sales. Those people who are obviously the least irritating people to deal with. Not. “The sign says it is on sale!”
“The sign says sale items have an additional discount.”
“The sign is right above the hat.” Actually, it’s hanging on shirts above the item, which used to have a promotion on those shirts. [I am left to assume, she would have had the same argument even if the original sign said, “Special, All Shirts 50% off!” “But the sign says the shirts are 50% off, why isn’t this hat also 50% off, it’s right next to the sign.” Pfft.]
“The sign is an announcement.” I point all around the store, which might be the first time she’s looked up from her feet today, breaking her hunched-back finding she’s actually a homo-erectus. Lo-and-behold, signs are on virtually every fixture announcing the additional discounts on sale items. “It is telling people all sale items have an additional discount.”
“It was right above these hats!” She glares at me. I have no idea if she’s trying to use force or her age to get a discount.
“If it was on sale, you would get the discount.” I am unmoved. “If you sign up for a card, you can get a discount.”
“Fine, I don’t want it.”
“Okay,” I take the hat, turning around, and putting it on the counter. I turn back, finding her still glaring at me, as if her admittance of ‘not wanting it’ was supposed to make me balk, and shudder, quivering under her power of trying to rape us of the money we are already losing by having this ridiculously high sale discount. Woman, we’re already taking a loss just selling these sale items, why would I want to sell full-priced items at such a discount?

Obviously she hasn’t read this: Diminishing Returns.

So she stares at me more, without saying anything. This continues for about ten more seconds as she walks away, and looks at each and every sign announcing our sale. I have no idea if it sunk in, but those signs were everywhere, and none of them said, “Hey, these are on sale!” “Hey, everything is on sale!” It always saddens me when I find people have lived this long being ignorant and no one has ever set them straight, or at least taught them to have some sense of embarrassment when they act like they’re stupid. I rather not ever be caught acting with stupidity, or be seen as cheap, too. But, that is just me.

Customer Types: The Blind, Capitalist,  The Dumb

For Shame!

May 19, 2010

As a testament to my statement that I can ‘Act More Korean Than a Korean’ I have a story to tell. It was the end of a long, irritating day, part of a long and irritating week. I already had two bad happenings, which I’ll write about later. Two Korean women come up to me asking if this ‘discount on denim’ works on their chambray shirt and denim shorts. And I tell them, “No, it only works on the full-length jeans. The computer doesn’t accept shorts or shirts. Only full-length.” After making sure they were clear, I went along on my way.

Several minutes later, I am in the fitting room, and I hear on the walkie-talkie, “Hey, does the discount work on a shirt or denim shorts?”
“No, only regular jeans.”
“Well they said someone told them it works.” I turned my head faster than the world spins; I’m quite sure the earth stood still for a moment in consideration.

I stalked out of the fitting room, straight to the cash registers; nay, I stomped, bashing floor tiles as I walked. I turned the corner, and there they were, the two Korean women, playing tricks. I go up to them, shaking my head.
“For shame, you lie. You know I told you it doesn’t work. For shame!”
The cashier turns to me, “Are you speaking to me?” She has just given them the discounts, which they know they should not have gotten.
“No,” I point at the women, “They asked me, and I told them it doesn’t count. They lied. For shame. Shame on you! How embarrassing you have to lie. For shame!” I continued to speak to them as children, shaking my head, and their only response was to turn away, looking down, because they couldn’t make eye contact with me. I also made the ‘tsk, tsk’ sound, just for emphasis. I will explain all of this later. I kept saying “Shame, for shame!” as they took their ‘deals’ and walked away. I will not be forgetting people who lie, especially using me for that cause.

So what just happened? Shall we explore it?
You see, many Asiatic cultures, especially around Vietnam, China, Japan, and Korea have ancestor worship. They live as examples of honor and respect for their family and those who came before them, this often includes anyone of their culture whom is older than they. My words were chosen correctly, because if I challenged them, if I said they lied in a different fashion, then they would have and could have yelled back. When have you not seen a Korean being lectured, who yells back and get obnoxiously loud? When they are wrong.

I spoke to them as a child, as they too have spoken to their children who lie, who do bad things, telling them to be ashamed of themselves. They have made their parents, their parents-parents, and all their ancestors who no longer live bear a sign of shame because of their actions. This I reminded them, by saying “For shame,” over and over, so they knew, they would get their discount, but at what cost? They lied to save a few dollars, that is embarrassing, it is disrespectful to me, and brings shame to them and their houses. All the spirits of their family will look down on them as they carry their disrespect and shame. All to save a few dollars. For shame. For shame!

They could not get mad or yell at me, as they have done. They cannot have long discussions and questions challenging this rule or that rule, as many do every single day. They knew they were wrong, and admission of this fact was their inability to look at me, or speak. They knew who was right and who was wrong.

As my coworkers gasped in amazement, I just shook my head. The older Korean women looked down, not making eye contact with me and walked away with their discounts and their pride broken. They’ll know better next time than to lie, especially to me or about me. I told my coworkers, those women will need to put out some extra oranges in their shrine tonight for the deals they got.

Customer Types: Capitalist, The Liar

Diminishing Returns

April 3, 2010

This will be a more thoughtful post, revolving around the idea of prices, mark-ups, and mark-downs. You see, I often hear people saying, “This costs just two-dollars for them to make,” which is true to an extent. If you could go down to the various factories where clothes are made, and people are paid pennies, then yes, I’m sure you could buy it for two-dollars. But then, oh wise Capitalists, would you travel all the way to these third-world countries in order to buy those products? No, not really.

So, we have to pack and then ship the product to a local store. The costs for packing, shipping across an ocean on a boat to a sorting factory, then shipping to individual stores and locations by plane, in order for a guy to carry it to a store near you, then someone unpacks the boxes, sorts the clothes, hangs them, and displays them… I could go on, but each of these people get paid for your convenience–for our convenience. If you could go to a shipyard and buy it off the boat, that’d be great, but would you? Ha-ha, not-so-much. If, and totally if, you could buy it right after it was processed and ready to sell in a store, then it is worth the price on the tag. This is rarely the case.

The entire process, for me, ignores the Brand price, which you really ‘should’ keep an eye on. Made in Italy means the people are paid a lot more to make it compared to Made in the Philippines, so the final cost is multiplied. Yet, some companies still make their stuff in ‘those’ countries that you’d never want to visit, and then mark it up because they are “The Big Thing”, so they can mark it up, because people will buy it–supply and demand.

Back to the topic on hand, once the price is tagged and the items are on the floor, sure, it cost two-dollars to make and then more to get it where it is, but what then? Then people try it on, and someone else has to re-fold it, re-hang it, and replace it where it was. Someone is paid each and every time this happens, over and over, until that piece of clothing is sold. If you look at the minimum-wage in your state, if this item is worked on a total of one hour, how much is it currently worth? I actually think the more a piece of clothing is touched, the more it is worth, but these are the diminishing returns. Eventually, the items are marked down, which again takes time and effort to move it around as it becomes less-and-less of the ‘main product’ being replaced by newer products. Then they sit ‘on sale’, actually worth more than they were worth when they first touched the sales floor because of all the extra time and money used to upkeep it (it even costs money to have it on display where a store pays rent). In the end, you might sell something for twenty-dollars, but paid all sorts of people so much, you just make a profit of two-dollars on that product.

So when a snotty genius lifts a shirt, ruining the fold, and throws it down, saying, “This costs two-dollars to make,” I wonder how shallow their minds really are. I can learn to accept the rude, but respecting the dumb is a different story.

The Benefit of the Doubt

April 3, 2010

A customer comes in with a return, it seems her pants tore on the butt the first time she wore it. It was beyond the return period, and kind of old. She didn’t have a receipt and the item was worthless in price, but after a discussion with a manager, he told her, “We’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, and let you exchange it for another pair.” So she goes off on her merry way to find a new pair of jeans. After her search, she returns to the register, and the same manager returns to help her. She now says that she had it altered and hemmed, which really does stretch our return policy. Yet, again, the manager said, “Alright, I said we’d give you the benefit of the doubt, and we will. Just this one time, you can exchange your jeans.” The story I was told, since I was nearby, but not included in this story, she exchanged her pair of hemmed, torn, used pants and got a pair of brand new pants.

Half-an-hour later she returns, and says she doesn’t want the pants anymore. She asks for specific managers by their name, none of which were working. Instead another manager comes out, since she doesn’t want the first manager helping her. She starts crying saying she doesn’t want the pants and wants her original pants back. The manager asks why. The woman tells my manager, “He called me fat.”
“What do you mean?”
“When he said he was giving me the benefit of the doubt, he was calling me fat.”
“I’m sorry, mam, but I’m quite sure he wasn’t calling you fat.”
“He was!” And the woman sobs more heavily, crying more. “He was calling me fat, and saying he’d give me the benefit of the doubt, because I’m fat!” Of course, she was about 34-inches and about five-foot two-inches in height. Yet, my manager was right, he wouldn’t call her fat, since that’s not his style. After a lot of crying, sobbing, and fat-over-usage, the second manager comes into the back to tell me and the first manager the story. A third manager comes along, one of the people she kept asking for when she was crying. We described her, and he didn’t know her at all, but went to look at the security cameras just in cast.

Because, you know, the whole world thinks she’s fat, which is why the pants tore, right? I know you’re thinking that, stop giving her the benefit of the doubt, people! Shame, shame.

Customer Types: Big Baby