It seems that comparison-shopping, discounting and getting the best price is all that drives customers any more.
Abandon retail sales training and put the money in omnichannel so you can reap the benefits is what conventional wisdom is telling retailers large and small.
But in their quest for the lowest price, shoppers have often missed the concept of premium products. And so have their employees...
Take Trader Joe’s Two-Buck Chuck. A salesman said, “It’s functional wine. That’s the best description I can give.” When the consumer settles for generic wine that can get them drunk, how will the wine merchant ever get new customers to explore wine’s vast variations and subtleties? Same with the best coffees and chocolates.
When a 72 dpi photo of a magnificent sunset is going to be altered and posted on Instagram anyway, what will happen to the budding Ansel Adams out there without a trip to the camera store?
Instead of searching for the best possible product, consumers are increasingly looking for ones that meet their needs and for the least expensive option.
In short, the American consumer seems to be in full retreat from the trend covered in the landmark 2003 book, Trading Up: Why Consumers Want New Luxury Goods, where we were told that everyday objects that cost more also mean more to the average consumer.”
Now it seems extraordinary products mean less to the average consumer.
Why is that?
Lazy salespeople. Lazy department managers. Lazy visual merchandising. Bean counters at every level thinking they can do more with less.
This has led to the idea of a premium product being lost on Millennial generation shoppers. And employees…
The problem for retailers is how to move thrifty shoppers, who have more in common with Boomers’ grandparents and their miserly ways, from a product that is good enough to the premium product that will better satisfy their long term wants and needs.
Anyone on their feet knows the cheapest shoes you buy are the most expensive. And the most expensive the cheapest. That’s because when your feet hurt and get fatigued from excessive heat in man-made materials, that pain travels up your legs to your back, neck and arms.
But if no one in a shoe store ever explains that to you, you keep buying the cheapest crap without a wit of knowledge what you are doing to yourself. Or your own happiness.
Online retailers have managed to redefine quality as the very least cost.
Selling a premium product demands more from a retailer than attaching a hangtag of features. Instead, a retail sales training program must educate your sales force about the important differences that a premium product delivers.
In particular, a company’s retail sales training should point out the best points about the quality of your premium products:
Durability - They last significantly longer
Versatility - More features mean it can be used for more than one purpose
Quality - The product is better to use, taste or otherwise experience
Ease of Use - A quality product should be more intuitive to use.
Flexibility - Premium products provide for options when using a product
Convenience – Less hassle with warranties if something does go wrong
The most important lesson to be learned from the points above is to not allow your sales staff to succumb to the premise that a more costly item is simply overpriced.
How about the time I was in California looking for a new remote at the Apple store. While the clerk was swiping my card I remembered I needed a new 1T external drive. She said, “Don’t buy it from us, we’re too overpriced.” And with that she went over to a computer, and with a few clicks had printed me a copy of a Newegg sell sheet for one. She thought she was doing the smart thing I'm sure.
If your brick and mortar store carries a premium product it should be better built, contain more useful features, and deliver far more value per dollar spent than a cheaper model. If not, why are you carrying it?
If your premium products do deliver more value, then it is essential that your retail sales training program impart this message to your team.
Checkout my new online virtual retail sales training here.
The Bottom Line
Consumers arrive at a retail store looking for advice that they could not find online. It’s an opportunity for the retailer and their staff to prove their own value to the customer by providing good advice on an array of products – not just what is cheapest.
While this advice may sometimes lead to an inexpensive option, it is also a time to explain to the customer the benefits of more advanced, feature-laden or just plain better alternatives.
Give your customer the benefit of the doubt and explain all their options.
You, your customers and your bottom line will be significantly happier.