Topic: Retail Sales

Retailers Act Now: You Don’t Have The Luxury of Time

By Bob Phibbs

retail sales trainingAs a retail sales consultant, I find shopping is an occupational necessity and when I shop, I’m always looking at the behaviors of employees.

It was while I was walking through the Las Vegas Fashion Show Mall that I found what was right and wrong about retail.

First the wrong.

Employees were looking out at the mall from inside their beautiful stores; hoping something out there was more exciting, fun or interesting than inside where they were gainfully employed.

Employees were not meeting customers’ eyes once they went to the register. It was as if they were embarrassed that someone was giving them money; and so much for so little product.

Managers with clipboards and iPads were circumnavigating around customers who were trying to shop. Those darn customers seemed to be interruptions to the managers and their tasks.

At Independent luxury stores, several employees were sitting behind the counter. No customers were in the store even though it was full of SALE signs.

Here’s the thing. You don’t have the luxury to allow any of these!

After a rather lackadaisical December when the malls were noticeably less busy, the writing on the wall continues to become clearer – people aren’t going out of their way to shop at the mall.

While you might not like change, your customers have already done it. If your store looks the same, feels the same or smells the same, they’ve been there done that.

While you might have been able to call the shots in the past, consumers aren’t going to be returning to their carefree and indulgent shopping sprees. There are too many places to buy too much of the same thing. Times have changed. Permanently.

And here’s my point… You don’t have the luxury of time.

The clock is running, and as whole segments of society are changed and in some cases made extinct, your pie is shrinking. And this applies to any retailer whether they are in a mall or not.

The good news is … this will only happen if you let it.

Yes, if you see your store in the ways I listed above, you’re already sunk. I’m absolutely convinced of it.

But, if you employ people not afraid of chatting up customers, who seek out the customer in the store, who can look at you and your customers in the eye and smile well... You can build a business on a person like that.

Or if there is a lull in customer traffic, you don’t stand around waiting but become proactive to get shoppers in. At one store, I saw an employee grab a handful of unique, colorful shopping bags, go straight to the front of the store and begin asking shoppers, “Would you like a free bag?” As shoppers looked at her, and then the bag, and then the store, some filtered in. Those who didn’t went down the mall, advertising the brand all the way.

You can build a business on a person like that.

The economy is improving and will continue to do so in 2013, however slowly. What are you waiting for?

I’ve seen some of you in my audiences, playing the games, joining in the role-playing, taking notes and clapping. But when you get back to your store, you revert back to the same old ways. You play on the computer, browse the Internet, update status, do busy work, find ways to get out of the store, and settle for a sour relative to wait on your customer. This doesn’t grow your business.

Whether or not you’ve been in my audiences, we all have to change. You don’t have the luxury of waiting. The answer isn’t out in the mall - it’s in the mirror.

You have to act now.

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