Retail Sales: A Nice Salesperson Costs Your Business 7%
By Bob Phibbs
Beware, there's a new character on retail sales floors...
I call them PN for Prince (or Princess) Nice.
PNs start off by telling customers, "Here's whats on sale." Which reads, "I think we're overpriced so I'm being nice to show you the cheap stuff." No mention of what is new or different.
That can affect profits, no doubt. But not like the most damaging of all of PNs words...
"Don't worry about trying any of it on, just return what you don't like."
According to the National Retail Federation, customers returned merchandise valued at $185.5 billion, approximately 8% of total sales. Take out 1% for fraud so we're probably talking about 7%.
Let's assume your department does $100,000 for ease of computing. That would mean you could eat $7,000 in returns. Let's say an average sale is $65 so you'd have lost the equivalent of about 100 customers.
When the merch is returned, it could have been worn, it could be mis-tagged into the system, or it could be pilfered.
But wait, there's more....
This most often happens on your best and brightest which means your hottest merch could be lying in a bag in someone's trunk for a convenient time to return - days - weeks - or months later. Long after it is "hot."
Retailers have created some of the most eye-popping and drop-dead gorgeous stores ever seen.
But hiring and retail sales training haven't kept pace.
Retail hiring and training must match your store design!
Yes, you need to have a basic script that doesn't allow for, "How are you?" or "Can I help you?" or any of the other things clerks say without thinking. The script gives a backbone for the interaction, but does not replace the interaction.
Like a great actor, a great salesperson can make it their own and sound fresh without sounding like a robot.
But without a script employees are free to act like they do at home.
Or, to try to win favor with strangers and be nice.
Further, without judicious screening of employees, we often settle for dregs instead of taking a chance on the stars.
Because they will fill-in without being a prima donna. And they can be nice to customers. Of course, it isn't only your returns that are effected but your entire sales.
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