Retail Holiday Selling Tip: Why You Must Limit Interstore Transfers

By Bob Phibbs

retail holiday selling tipsShoppers are opening their wallets again this holiday with the National Retail Federation predicting close to a 4% increase over last year so you are bound to be out of certain products, sizes or colors - especially if they are on promotion.

Emphasize to your staff how they need to be selling what they have in store.

Some store employees with no retail sales training feel they have to call another store for a stock check because to them, that is good customer service.

No it isn't.

Customers who ask you to call another store should told the hard truth, it is just too busy to accurately check an item. Suggest other colors or other products you have plenty of.

Here's why transfers do not make you money...

When an employee calls another store, especially the week of Christmas, it takes them off the floor and their attention from customers wanting to purchase, to someone who "might" purchase.

It also pulls an employee at another store off their floor and away from their customers wanting to purchase for someone who "might" come to their store or require them to ship it.

That employee is harried and probably won't diligently check the racks, the displays and back stock - since that could be ten minutes or more. (Now if you are Tiffanys and we're talking a $10,000 bauble, by all means but most readers of this blog are working with items for far less.)

There are six things that can happen during a store-to-store transfer:

  1. The item arrives too late.

  2. The wrong item arrives.

  3. The item arrives damaged.

  4. The customer changes their mind.

  5. The customer never picks it up.

  6. The customer comes in and pays full price for it.


When it is February, transfers and ship-to-store are not a big deal but two days before Christmas?

You're flirting with disaster.

While we're at it, no holds either.

If someone wants an item that much, they should be encouraged to purchase it and they can return it if need be.

When they ask if you can hold it just say, "I'm sorry we can't."

I can't tell you how many "holds" I've seen in retailers lately behind counters. Holds cripple your good salespeople's ability to sell your merch. All because someone wants to be "nice." Great, let that employee buy it with their credit card.

See also, How To Convert Holiday Shoppers Into Loyal Year Round Customers

In Sum

These are tBuy Nowhe money weeks so if you want to give good customer service, focus on the customers in front of you wanting to buy.

Not on those unable to decide.

For more ways to grow your business, check out my book from Wiley. The Retail Doctor's Guide to Growing Your Business (Wiley.) You can even download the introduction and first chapter at that link.

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