I had a recent girl’s day out.  Long overdue and naturally, it included a little retail therapy in one of my favourite clothing shops.  Typically, retail therapy doesn’t end up being relaxing on any level for me.  I have a hard time being a “regular customer” without assessing the entire customer experience through my retail expert goggles!  I want to tell you about all the amazing goodies I found that day, but you know I have bigger story to tell, right?

Ok, so this retailer is a good retailer from the outside looking in.  Great concept.  Great branding.  Great reputation in the area.  Great space.  It’s all great…I said it was one of my faves.  With all this greatness though, there are so many misses going on that would be so easy to fix, it makes my heart hurt.  The misses preventing the perfect customer experience lie mostly with the sales team.  Yes, there are some merchandising critiques, but really, it’s about the people.  The staff is nice.  They take pride in their store.  They are having fun out on the floor, but they are just going through the motions when it comes to engaging with (and actually selling to) their customers.  So much so, on this most recent visit, I turned to my sister and said “It’s like they are just playing store.”

Of course, my sister understood immediately what I meant when I said “playing store”, but let me explain.  As a kid growing up in a retail family business, my idea of fun was gathering up my neighbourhood friends and inviting them over to my house for an exciting afternoon of playing store!  Everyone loved it.  We would all decide what kind of store we wanted, set up our shops around the house and then shopped each other stores.  Monopoly money went a long way and we never seemed to run out of cash, so we went through the motions of sales rep/customer conversations and just had a hay day.  But we were just pretending though, and I’m afraid to say, the experience was pretty familiar on our girl’s day out as well. 

Being nice to your customers is not enough.  Clerking the change room area; only interested in returning ‘no’s’ back to the floor is also, not enough.  Pretending to walk the floor and repeating “can I get you a change room” or “are you making out OK?” is certainly not enough. 

The girls and I were buying that day.  It was like we had an endless amount of Monopoly money in our wallets, but no one cared.  No one probed to find out our needs and wants.  No one worked the change room to retrieve sizes or pay attention to how things were fitting.  One sales person even returned a stack of clothes back to the floor before we even had a chance to take them into the change room!  Talk about just going through the motions. 

It’s a shame really.  The fix to this is so easy.  It’s called TRAINING.  If you haven’t invested in training your front line teams (who have a huge role in creating the customer experience inside your stores), you are missing out on a key ingredient to winning at retail. 

You are just playing store!

Mary Gordon and Kim McCutcheon have been supporting retail front lines for as long as they can remember. A dynamic duo, Mary and Kim understand what it takes to make training work at store level and know how to inspire, coach and support retail teams in all of their training endeavours.

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