Posts Tagged ‘salesfloor’

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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The Scavenger Hunter

June 14, 2010

When a woman or a man comes to me saying they’re looking for some clothes for certain weather, they want certain details, colors, etc. and possibly several outfits to mix-and-match with–I am more than glad to help. This is called Building a Sale. We can walk around and discuss what colors they already have, and what will add to or expand their collection. We can talk about the places they’re visiting and where they are from, to get an idea of what is versatile and has long-lasting use. It is my pleasure to find them some of the coolest items we have, some of the most interesting choices and color palettes.

When someone comes to me with a random shirt out of the sale area which has been out for weeks, asking me to find another color or size–I am less than glad to help. Especially, when they follow me around. Especially, especially, when they pick up more items and then ask for that, because they have developed the mutant power to find the last one of every item as long as it isn’t in their size. Really? Maybe you need a mutant seeing-eye-dog who can smell sizes for you instead? I have customers that actually want to buy something.

There is an old woman who comes with her daughter and without missing a beat, they will send me on more scavenger hunts than a pirate holding a map with one-thousand giant, red ‘X’s written on it.
“I want that scarf, where is it? Do you have more?” When I can’t find it, noting they are two on mannequins, I go and pull one down. “I want the other one, too.” She needs both of them to compare, but will eventually give one back so I can climb back up and put it on the mannequin again. I walk away, and a minute later, “These sandals, do you have them in a size-8?” There is only one left in the store, and it’s the wrong size, so I tell her. “So you don’t have any in a size-8?” She asks me rudely and exasperated, as if she’s been looking hard–but instead, she had someone else looking for something for her while I looked for the shoes. I snort silently, as I tell her it’s probably on a mannequin. So I go around, lifting our twenty pound mannequins in front of her, crouching on the dirty floor, trying hard not to drop them as I check their feet; she follows me around, watching. They are all size-9. By the time I make it to the front of the store and have checked nearly a dozen mannequins, she says, “Oh you poor boy, nevermind already.” After asking me to find a pair of shorts, a belt, and a bag, she pulls me yet again and points at a display way up on top, “I think I know where the sandals are.” My face is blank, but I get the sandals, and amazingly, they are the only size-8’s left in the store, used as display pieces. They needed to put pins in the sandals for this display, and I take them out, handing them to her, and she starts to ask, “Is this okay…” As I walk away. I really don’t care, if you don’t want them, just throw them somewhere. I already destroyed five visual displays for you. I look around at all the other customers who are actually buying things, and actually need real help, but instead I’m stuck with this old woman.

I go into the fitting room saying I can’t handle this woman anymore. All I’m doing is scavenger hunts, for nearly an hour, and the place is busy. So I trade places with the person in the fitting room and they go to the sales floor to find the woman. “Where is she?” “Trust me, she’ll find you.” Of course, you already know whats going to happen. While I’m hiding in the fitting room, she arrives with her daughter to try on everything I had to pull off, pull down, and pull out for her. I clench my fists and bite my lip as I give them their room. “I can’t find them,” my coworker comes back. “Yes, because obviously, she had to come and try it while I’m in here.”

So we switch again, and I run to the front of the store to hide. Gosh, guess what, she comes looking for me in the front of the store to find something else for her. My eyes roll into my head…

The very next day, I’m working, and seriously, she’s there again. She greets me with a look of disdain, “Oh, it’s you again!” Wow, I was thinking the exact same thing! We must be soul-mates. She automatically asks me to find some shorts she can’t find, thankfully they’re too big to be on a mannequin. I search everywhere and find nothing, saying maybe a shoplifter stole it. And then, I look in the same pile she’s standing by, and it’s right there. Wow, now she’s being a pain-in-the-butt and a waste of my time. I run away to hide for a while, and as expected, when I appear on the sales floor she’s standing there and says, “There you are, I need you to find something…”

Why? Seriously, why? I hate being reduced to a retail slave.

Customer Type: Capitalist, Micromanagement, Scavenger Hunter