Posts Tagged ‘percent’

Divide and Conquer!

November 18, 2011

Two interesting customers enter the store. I hear someone say, “They were here for three days already!” Well, we’ve also had a sale going on. Basically, the sale is everything is on sale, 25% off the entire store. Hopefully, you understand how this works, you get 25% off everything. This discount is advertised throughout the store, in the windows, and of course, for the last three days.

So one of the two women comes up to me and asks, “Excuse me, how does the sale work? Do I get 25% off one item, or do I split it between everything I buy?”
I stare at her blankly for a moment. This must be a stare I give several times a week, to a variety of different customers, with an array of bewildering questions thrown randomly at my head. “You get 25% off everything you buy.”
“Oh, okay.” She turns and walks away.

Okay, pause, what just happened? It took me several minutes to even deduce what she asked me and what her brain was thinking. In the end, I convinced myself, for whatever reason, she believed the discount would be split between all the items she buys. Thus, I would give her 10% off one item, 5% off another, and we’ll say 10% off another, reaching a grand total of–wait for it–yes, 25% off! Okay, sure. Wow, that’s just borderline not-intelligent-at-all.

Customer Types: The Dumb, Lowered Expectations,  The Riddler

The Budget Friendly Customer

October 11, 2011

Although there are jobs with commission–with customers who have admittedly deep-pockets–and other jobs which congratulate or reward employees with huge sales, there is an underlying truth which isn’t always discussed. You see, greeting customers is a random process, not as hard as winning the lottery, but roughly the same idea. You don’t know, when you walk up to a customer if they’re going to be rude, crude, and brusque–well sometimes you actually do. In any case, you also don’t know when you walk up to a customer if they’ll be money-bags or moth-balls–well sometimes you actually do.

So what’s the point? Even if you are a great salesperson, and you get a customer to spend their entire budget–let’s use percentiles–so 100% of their available budget. If the customer has $1000 to spend, than you’ve made some good money.  (Of course, if you make 3% commission on a $1000 sale, that’ s just $30, so you better get on with the selling!) Yet, if a customer only has a budget of $200, then you may or may not consider them cheap compared to the $1000 customer. If their budget is less than $100, then surely you’d be silently spitting upon them, right? This is the point, you can’t gauge the budget of a customer, you don’t know how much money they actually have to spend. So when you pat yourself on the back because you were able to make the customer spend $500, is that because of your skill or because it’s well within their budget?

I think it would make more sense if you consider a customer’s total budget, and how far into that budget you’re able to hit. because you can’t get a customer to spend $500 if they only have $200. If you get a customer with a budget of $1000 to spend $500, and you get a customer with $200 to spend the entire $200–which customer have you truly capitalized upon? Although I believe acknowledging sellers who hit high numbers, I also think we need to take into consideration if they just randomly hit the jackpot, or just ran into a customer who had a lot of money, and they just barely skimmed the edge of that budget.

I bring this up because of the power of money in retail. It makes the customers look at salespeople like they’re only worth as much as money is spent, but the same can be said about salespeople towards customers. In all reality, there is some respect to be found. There are some salespeople who find out how much their customers are able to spend, and help them work through that amount. This definitely takes a great deal of skill, because can you really help a customer find an outfit for less than $100? It’s ridiculously easy if they’re willing to spend $500. So just where does your skill really lay? Does it matter you can make huge sales? Or are you just ‘lucky’?

The Shorts on Sale

April 26, 2011

As usual, I’m minding my own business, and a woman comes up to me asking about our sale shorts. (You see, a sign says all shorts on sale 25%-off. All shorts on sale 25%-off. Do you follow? Good.)

“Excuse me,” she already has a stern, unhappy tone, “Which of your shorts are on sale?” She looks around at different styles. We have several.
“All shorts on sale.”
“All of them? Even those?” She points at a huge wall at the front of the store packed with shorts.
Hmm, obviously not the shorts at the entrance, what kind of marketing strategy would that be? Who in their right mind would have a shorts sale and put shorts on sale at the entrance? Silly people. “Yes, all shorts in the store are on sale.”
“So they’re all on sale for 25%-off?”
“All of them?”
“So how much are they on sale for?”
“Is it just 25%-off or an additional 25%-off?”
I don’t know what she even just asked, it’s like asking if the sun rises when the moon sets or the moon rises when the sun sets. I can think of a dozen ridiculous comparisons. So I just say, “An additional 25%-off.”
“Off of what?”
I’m starting to look around, because I swear, sometimes I think this is a game, and someone is recording my life for future comedy shows. “Off the price on the tag.” I give her a look like she’s totally confusing me.
“Oh,” she states, then leaves the store.

Customer Types: The Questioner, The Rambler

Simple Math.

December 5, 2009

50% of two dollars is one dollar. 25% of one dollar is twenty-five cents. And ten dollars? 50% is five dollars. 25% is two dollars and fifty-cents. If you are already lost, pull out a calculator, you’ll need it.

We have an additional 40%-off sale. A woman gets my attention waving a shirt at me. “This is 40% off? How much will this cost? Can you check?” I’m thinking, okay, expecting to see some random number, like $25 or $35. I pull out the tag and blink. It’s ten dollars. 40% of ten dollars is? $4.00. I’ve only taken one step away, only two seconds have gone by when I turn around and tell her, “40% of $10.00 is $4.00, so this costs $6.00.” My face is blank. She’s speechless, I can’t tell if she’s amazed I could do that without a calculator or she thinks I’m lying to her.

Customer Type: The Dumb

Canned Discount in Japanese.

September 12, 2009

There are times we do things for charity, like working with a local food-bank accepting cans in exchange for a discount. There was an older man who spoke no English, who came to the register. I note, I have a simple rule–never visit a country if you can’t speak any of the language. If you do, bring someone that can speak for you. You surely don’t want to embarrass yourself and end up in some story that’s retold later.

So he comes up and hands me a pile of clothes, then he puts the flier on top–which announces the charitable event–canned goods in exchange for a discount. I ring up his purchase, but since he has no canned goods, I act as if he’s just resting the flier on the counter. I press enter, and he sees the total, shaking the paper in my face.

“It says you get discount if you bring in canned food.” I do not know enough Japanese to translate this curious statement for him. Thus if I went to Japan, I would obviously bring someone who can speak the language.
He glares at me, his expression unchanged.
“Canned food. Cans. Vegetables. Food.”
He still stares at me and points at the flier, specifically the line for the discount. I don’t know if he’s totally oblivious to all the other statements on the paper.
“Charity? Fundraiser? Homeless? Starving?” I try to think of words he might have heard in Japan, but to no avail. This is getting quite embarrassing, and not for me. I glance at the long line of customers listening to our exchange, seeing their fliers and the cans they’re holding, knowing they understand exactly what the discount is. They’re looking at the back of his head with the ‘shame-shame’ face. This is one time, being rich isn’t a power against a retail store.
He stands there staring at me, so I go to the donation box and show him a can of vegetables. He shakes his head. Then he spits out the English he does know, “I give, I get can?” He gestures the paper toward the cans, as if we give him a canned food for having a flier. Seriously, this isn’t a third-world country.
“No, the cans are for charity. For the poor. For people that have no home.”
He shakes his head angrily, wanting the discount. I point at the box again. He yells, “No can!” while pointing at himself–he doesn’t want any cans, and I surely doubt he’s homeless.

In the end, he just slams down the flier and says, “No buy!,” as if he was triumphant against the Retail world. He walks away angry and proud. Now there is a man, if he knew what an ass he made of himself–in front of a line of customers–would hopefully be ashamed of himself. Yet, if he wasn’t ashamed of himself, then I feel sorrow for the world.

Customer Type: Learn the Language

A Last Straw…

September 8, 2009

Last night, a woman comes up to the register with a pile of clothes and a previous purchase in a crushed, wrinkled bag–obviously a return or exchange. The state of one’s shopping bag says a great deal about the shopper, mind you. Which she let me know, was an exchange because she got wrong sizes. She also pulled out a tiny bottle of what amounts to a sample sized bottle of perfume, saying that she was surprised there was no sprayer–thus she opened it (violently?) and it has spilled all over the place, so she doesn’t want it–handing me vial with 1/4th its contents missing.I could already tell I’d be dealing with a neanderthal.

After I entered all her items, she decides to check if she got all the right sizes. Lo and behold, she got an XL instead of a L. (Who didn’t see that coming the moment she stepped to the register with eight shirts in her hand?) So I went to get the shirt from the children’s section. The piles here are neatly folded except for her meanderings–which equals everything above XL thrown asunder, and if you know clothing, XL is on the bottom of each pile, so everywhere I could see explosions of turned over piles. There at the top of one of her disasters was the Large-size she missed.

We have a promotion in which we must manually spread discounts between two items (50% and 50%), which she allowed me to complete before saying, “Wait, I want to see what I actually need.” Lo and behold, yet again, she chooses each item that was part of a ‘two item’ combination, thus leaving the single items with a full discount amounting to 100% off.

This left me with the task of starting the transaction over once again. Which is when I find out another coworker gave her an accidental discount far beyond 50%, closer to 75%-off for each item–which the customer reminded me, I needed to honor. I note, she did not remind me politely. Thus I had to price override every single item, and reapply the discount to 75%-off. Along with the scent she returned, and a hat and slippers she added to the transaction, she had a balance of about $15

She was incredulous with paying $15 (after getting 75%-off everything else). Thus she requested I recheck everything to make sure that it was done correctly, to the point  she didn’t believe the cash register. I mean seriously, who trusts the calculations of a computer, right? Seriously? So I needed to use a calculator to verify the transaction.

(Amusingly, she returned 4 shirts, and bought 4 shirts thus canceling out each other to $0.  She was also dealing with $23 from buying the hat and slippers which is more than the $8 for the returned scent which she exploded elsewhere. What is $23 minus $8? Is it $15? Congratulations if you know this, it’s math they usually teach you in first-grade. The fact she could not do the math on her own, did not trust the computer, and required me to calculate it, made me stop and breathe for ten seconds, because I was so furious I couldn’t even press calculator buttons correctly at this point.)

When my hands shake, that’s a very frustrating time.

After finishing the transaction, I was reminded by a manager this is something we always deal with. Which brings the good point that maybe I shouldn’t work in retail anymore, because the fact of demoralization as a part of work and life is not satisfactory nor does it make any actual sense. I don’t recall the job saying, “You shall be insulted, demoralized, and your self-esteem shaken by working in retail.” In a sense, it was like saying my friends were right five years ago when I retired from the world, retail is not a place for me, and I have too much self-respect and dignity to stand there and be spoken to unintelligably.
Confucius would say, you control the words you speak, you do not control what these words mean.

Customer Terms: Micromanagement