Bricks and Bouquets

There’s no doubt that retail is a lightning rod that attracts so much negative and positive attention alike.  No wonder, it’s likely the most visible industry of all.  We’re all consumers, no matter what we do, and as such find ourselves face to face with the good (and the bad) retailers.

Now it’s my turn to toss a few bouquets for things I see being done exceptionally well by and for retail, and to throw a few bricks at things that continue to annoy customers and lose sales.

The Bouquets

Sport Chek, Collingwood, Ontario

I don’t know what’s in the water in Collingwood, but they should export it to every Sport Chek store.  Had the opportunity to shop this store a couple of times this winter and the staff are ALL on their game.  Everyone greeted us and offered assistance.  A few even circled back to check back in with some creative offers.  The store was friendly and it was obvious they were all driven to sell.  A real team effort to create a great shopping experience.  I can’t say that’s always been the experience in every Sport Chek store in the past, but the Collingwood store certainly deserves a bouquet.  Well done!

Retail Council of Canada’s Human Resource Conference

We attended this event last week and it was, by far, the best ever.  What made it great?  A real focus on how HR can drive the business.  HR often gets a bad (?) rap as being the Sales Prevention Department in some companies.  But, what was delivered on stage by HR Leaders from various retailers was the message that HR can play a pivotal role at the head table when it comes to driving results.  A record number of retailers attended the event.  Hopefully they were all listening and taking notes.  There’s no shortage of ways that HR can help create a better work experience.  Now, we’re excited to attend RCC’s STORE Conference (http://www.storeconference.ca/) in June … you should be too!

The Bricks

The Media

I know bad news sells, but seriously, you would think retail was going to hell in a handbasket the way the media reports on it.  If you believed only what gets covered in the media, you would think everyone is only shopping online, that all big box retailers are going broke and that retail stores will soon be a thing of the past.  Yes, there have been some pretty spectacular disasters of late, but here in Canada there’s a long list of retailers who are coming to the market and an even longer list of retailers who are expanding and thriving.  Retail Insider produces a great daily news service and shared this list of retailers who are opening (http://www.retail-insider.com/retail-insider/2015/4/list ).

This constant ‘black cloud’ reporting only serves to scare off consumer spending and confidence which in turn creates even more bad news stories.   Sorry Media, but you get a Big Brick.

The Staff and Management of Too Many High End Furniture Stores

We had the misfortune of having to shop for some furniture along King Street in Toronto along the designer furniture strip.  Not sure how most of them sell anything.  The usual scene is staff (sometimes as many as 5 of them) sitting behind a desk deep in concentration on something on their screen.  You walk around the store for 5 minutes with no one acknowledging you.  We even ‘dare’ the staff to wait on us by walking right in front of their desk. Nothing.  Who are they kidding?

There were a few great staff we met, but not many.  I don’t know if it was disinterest, lack of awareness, lack of ability or arrogance that caused most of them to blatantly disregard the customer.  Whatever it was doesn’t really matter.  The product, no matter how beautiful, won’t sell itself.

So, if you’re responsible for these stores, or working in them, you get a Brick.

Linda Montalbano is a true retail operator with a history of leading large retail teams to success. If you need a fresh perspective on what's going wrong in your stores, Linda is the one to tell you like it is and come up with a solid game plan to turn things around!

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