Posts Tagged ‘gross’

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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A Cart, like a Donkey

April 21, 2010

Rarely, and I mean rarely, do I see a customer with a full-sized shopping cart walking through the mall. I don’t know where they find these things, who lets them borrow it, or if they are such shopping enthusiasts that they had to buy their own. I imagine some people buy so much stuff, they just can’t carry it. Yet, this still isn’t necessarily a socially ‘okay’ thing to do. Their shopping cart becomes like a donkey. And like a donkey, I’m sure certain stores would turn them away. *Ahem* High-end. The poor donkey-cart has to carry all those bags, being pushed around, laughed at, and stared at all day long. Really, who takes a shopping cart into retail stores? Its one thing being required to make space for wheelchair accessibility, but these things are like Hummer in a world of wheelchairs. They bang things, they move fixtures, and once they stop moving, there is no way around them–not that any cart pusher has moved very fast anyway, right?

Walking around pushing their donkey-cart, I don’t know why, but these people always have a certain look to them. Like today, the woman with her donkey-cart had it full of thrift shop and cheap-shop bags–a good thing to flaunt, right? I mean everyone is staring anyway. Let everyone know, since they’re already looking at you and your donkey-cart, “Hey, not only am I classless, but I am cheap, too!” In the fitting room, she had to announce her arrival by yelling at me three times. Because of her precious cheap clothes, she had to change with the fitting room door open–and believe me, she was trying on everything, so everything was coming off. Horrid, absolutely horrid. Thankfully she was wearing what was left of a bra. So after she was done trying on her intimate apparel, yes, intimate apparel! I walked into the room and was suddenly thrust into my childhood.

I imagined sitting with a blank sheet of colored craft paper, grabbing at my coloring tools. When you open the box, and inhale the smell of crayons–you know where I am taken back to. The entire room reeked of that crayon smell, the bad kind. It was like someone broke little pieces of crayon and left it everywhere, aging for fifty years, rubbing it into the walls. All the clothes were covered with that scent, and everywhere she went, there it was–like a bad habit we try to lose, it just follows you. It is ironic, considering her cart smelled nothing like a donkey, but she just had to smell something awful. Needless to say, I let someone else grab her clothes out of the fitting room, fold them, and put them away.

Customer Types: Lowered Expectations, Piggies

Stinky Jeans

February 27, 2010

There was so much stuff in one fitting room, so I was placing some on my shoulder and my arms to put away. As I’m going back to fold them, a customer emerges from a fitting room asking me for a size. So I gladly go and get a size, and while I’m walking, I wonder why the store smells like a mix of urine, sweat, and body-odor. I wonder if it’s me, but my armpits smell fine. You always need to do the armpit check.

So I go and find the item, bending over and again, I smell the stink. I start to wonder if the store is having some ventilation problems, because there are times I smell fart when no one else is around–and it definitely isn’t me. I decide I must be smelling the vents. I return to the customer and hand them their shirt. Standing there, yet again, I smell it. Finally, I realize, I still have a pair of denim on my shoulder. A quick sniff reveals nothing. Yet, as I’m used to sniffing some clothes to check if they’re washed and worn, I know it isn’t always the ‘entire’ pant that smells. Suffice it to say, there was a certain ‘spot’ that smelled rancid compared to the rest of it. This was not a good spot to even sniff, mind you. Definitely some form of sweaty moisture from someone hard at work trying on clothes, enough to seep through their clothes onto the denim.

After washing my hands and smelling my clothes, spraying some cologne where the smell was noticeable, because it was on my clothes already, I return with a plastic trash bag–this is definitely going into the damaged product bins.

I return later, forgetting all about the denim–as would anyone else in my situation want to forget such a thing-and I find my co-worker spraying some aerosol all over the bag. She looks at me saying, “OMG, this stinks so bad! Did they pee in it? I can smell it through the bag!” At least she wasn’t carrying it on her shoulder for several minutes. My coworker properly disposed of the item, calling it, “Toxic waste.”