The much-anticipated holiday season has now come and gone. Biggest selling opportunity of the year, right? How did you do? Move more merchandise than ever before? Keep the cash registers running at full tilt? Set an all-time revenue record? Good for you!!
Now for the bad news. Your success wasn’t shared by every retailer. And it wasn’t because the crowds didn’t show up or because of the weather. The ‘sales damage’ we’re talking about was self-inflicted. What do we mean?
Check out some of the horrifying experiences we were subjected to during our Christmas shopping excursions. You’ll recognize these situations from your own trips to the mall. Could this be happening on your sales floor?
- We walk into a ‘specialty store’ to buy an item, only to be told that the ‘guy who knows about that stuff’ isn’t in today. Hello??!! Only one person in a specialty store knows anything about a main product line?
- We decide to visit another ‘specialty store’ in search of the same item and discover that this retailer only stocks one model. You read that right, only one model. No, they aren’t out of stock. Apparently, their intimate knowledge of this market leads them to believe that people will only buy one particular brand.
So here’s the question … why bother????
- More than one retailer made us step over boxes in the aisles and wait forever for service from staff who was busy ignoring us while they merchandised the store. And this was right in the middle of the shopping frenzy! Last we checked, these stores weren’t open 24 hours a day, so this important (but not urgent) task could certainly have been completed while they were closed. After all, when you open your doors, you’re either ready to sell or you aren’t. Somehow, far too many stores just aren’t ready to do business when they should be!
- God love seasonal staff! Those ever-cheerful, yet forever lost souls who are somehow entrusted literally overnight with your financial future. We were met by a wonderful assortment of these ‘temporary helpers’. We all know their inability to be truly helpful isn’t their fault, but they managed to frustrate us nonetheless with their complete lack of knowledge about products, pricing, procedures, inventory and just about anything else we wanted to know. They were simply unable to sell anything to anyone. Let’s wake up, shall we? If it’s important enough to put them on the sales floor, shouldn’t it also be important enough to train them to some minimal acceptable level?
- We spent far too much time on the benches in the malls, simply watching in astonishment (and no small degree of pain) as literally thousands of dollars in lost sales walked out of your doors. Customers simply weren’t waited on and nobody seemed to care whether they bought anything. Yet the staff seemed to have plenty of time to chat amongst themselves. Are selling and service no longer relevant to retail? What ever happened to accountability for performance? Just who is running this zoo, anyway?
Now, don’t get us wrong. Not everyone performed poorly. We did experience some good levels of service, but they were not the norm. And our intent here is not to dump all over you and focus strictly on your shortcomings. What we are really trying to emphasize is all the lost opportunities out there.
Forget about your budgets and ‘comp. sales’ for a minute and think about what could have been! How close did you come to capturing the immense potential that walked through your doors every day? If you’re completely honest with yourself, most of you will admit that too much business was lost.
Now for the important question. What are you going to do about it this year?