Archive for November, 2011

Mom, Christmas and Retail

Here’s an interesting article from Gavin Johnston at Reprinted with permission.

If you’ve ever shopped with a child in tow during the hectic holiday shopping season, you’re no stranger to stress, particularly during the holiday shopping season. But, retailers who apply human biology and the cognitive theory to in-store design could potentially gain a leg up in making moms more comfortable – not to mention more likely to shop and spend? Moms are busy people, juggling a multitude of duties. It is important to remember that moms are usually the primary shoppers in a household. And shoppers aren’t always the person who consumes a product. Because moms are juggling so many duties, it is easy to make little mistakes in a retail setting that will drive them away. The more a store can do to provide an environment that puts them at ease, the longer they will stay and the more loyal they will become.

1.   Red is Dead. Humans are hard wired to associate warm colors with natural spaces that trigger the brain to feel calm and make shoppers want to linger. Differentiate your store by saying goodbye to traditional red and green and hello to warm colors like maroon and evergreen. The soothing colors will decrease stress and create a non-threatening environment encouraging moms to purchase.

2.   Arch this way. For centuries, arches have served as symbolic gateways, signaling the entrance into a “special” or safe place. Anthropologists refer to this as “liminal space.” Archways signal to us that we are entering a space that is different and therefore special. Moms are more likely to purchase when they are in a relaxed, safe environment and believe they are buying a unique product. Use arches in your retail space to draw attention to special offers or seasonal areas and create a safe shopping environment.

3.   You touch it, you buy it. The more often a person touches a product, the more likely they are to buy it. Touching something, even in passing, subconsciously signals ownership and draws in. Moms, in particular, are trained to touch as a way of ensuring quality and safety of objects for their family. When we test for quality, we are committing ourselves to something and in doing so make it our own. Use fixtures and displays that require shopper interaction to increase engagement and lead to higher purchase rates.

4.   Get intimate. Personal space ranges from 2 to 4 feet. When moms feel they are doing something intimate, rather than just a task, they will have more positive associations with the experience. To create an intimate shopping experience, arrange your displays with 2 to 4 feet of space on either side of the shopper.

5.   From a space to a place. Familiarity with a location puts people at ease and lets them take their time examining things. Public space have no personal connection and are potentially threatening. Moms that feel like they are in a comfortable, familiar space will spend more time and more money. Don’t be afraid to use furniture on the edges of an aisle to make it appear more homey.

6.   Sometimes “mom” is not the word. Forget about “mom” for a minute. Human beings respond to symbols. Moms are constantly being reminded of what their social role and sometimes it can get tiring. Periodically use symbolism in displays that reminds them of their lives outside motherhood, such as pictures of a woman relaxing or shopping for herself.

7.   Hidden treasures. People love to find hidden gems, whether they are shopping for food, cards, or anything else. “Hide” merchandise in unexpected places throughout an aisle. When moms find these items, it reminds them they are clever and skilled shoppers. This will drive them to continue shopping, as they look for additional deals.

Human perceptions of space, although derived from sensory tools that all humans share, are shaped and patterned by culture. Designing your retail space to reflect these often subconscious behavior patterns will put moms at ease, which leads to increased time in the store – and increased sales.

All the Success!
DMSRetail Inc.

PS: Retail Selling Skills & Customer Service Fundamentals YourTime Study Course provides the skills, knowledge and tips you need to boost sales now…Help for the Holidays is right here!! Check it out:

Phoenix workshops are coming up in January 2012. Register now and get the new year off to a great start. Send an email to Josephine Hill, Events Manager at


Consistent Delivery of the Basics

All of us are looking for success in our retail businesses. What else? Apart from and beyond everything else, sustainable success requires consistency. What do we mean by that?

We mean being consistently great in all aspects of our retail business.

Short term successes are sometimes possible due to some lucky combination of factors. But, we can’t rely on lucky combinations. They are too few… and too far in between.

What we need to do is to set the foundations of our business right so that we can repeat our successes consistently.

This also has a profound impact on customer satisfaction. Your customers expect a certain level of performance from you on the basis of the perception you created. By being consistent at your skill set and service levels, you satisfy the minimum expectations.

And if you put a degree of constant improvement process in place, you’ll create a winning combination for your retail operation.

At minimum, some of the areas you must deliver on a consistent basis are:

1. Sales Skills (Trained staff on professional retail sales skills)

2. Quick response to all sorts of customer issues (Rapid response procedures in place)

3. Clean, tidy and efficient store environment (Great visual merchandising and maintenance)

4. Streamlined and customer friendly checkout process.

Pretty basic, right? Yet, just wander around the malls and shopping centres and see for yourself how many retailers are failing in consistent delivery of the basics.

Companies who understood this simple philosophy went on to create empires.

All the Success!

DMSRetail Inc.

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Take Responsibility for Merchandise Feedback

Today’s ‘Word to the RetailWise’ is: Take responsibility for providing Buyers with merchandise feedback.

The Buyer’s in your retail operation may be incredibly talented…but they are not mind readers. Whenever they purchase goods that will be available for sale in the stores, they rely on their skills, talent and experience. It’s their job to get the right merchandise into the stores at the best margin they can make on it. Let’s face it…that’s got to be tough. Their mistakes will always be noticed.

So, store personnel need to do their part to help out.

How often have you heard a Sales Associate complaining that the Buyer’s don’t know what they’re doing and the Buyer’s complaining that the Sales Associates don’t know how to sell? It’s very common .

Anyway, from a Store Operations perspective, know that once the goods arrive in your store you must take ownership of them. What else are you going to do? The company owns the merchandise and it’s your job to get them sold.

First, and foremost, store personnel need to be up to speed with product knowledge; all the features and benefits. The merchandise needs to be displayed properly, etc. Ideally, you sell out at first price!

In that case, the Buyer’s will likely get the picture without much feedback from you. They have numerous reports that show them what is moving and what isn’t. Of course, it’s still a good idea to let them know why a particular item was so popular.

However, if you have difficulty moving the merchandise after all of your best sales efforts, it may mean that there is something about it that the customer is not happy with. Your job is to figure out what that something is and ensure the feedback gets to the Buyer. After all, you’re in the best position to know.

If you don’t provide credible feedback and more of that same merchandise is purchased, the company will be less profitable than it could be. And no one wants that.

So, keep notes regarding the merchandise offered for sale in your store – good and bad – and make sure it gets to the right people. Remember to give honest, unbiased feedback; be impeccable with what you say. The Buyer has a big job to do, too!

All the Success!
DMSRetail Inc.

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Condescension…One of the 7 Deadly Sins of Customer Service

Today’s ‘Word to the RetailWise’ is: Beware of the condescending Sales Associate – one of the 7 Deadly Sins of Customer Service.

Recently, a colleague of mine – who happens to be very much a ‘techie’ – went shopping for a new laptop. He had checked around and found the store with the best price for the one he wanted. All the Store Associate had to do to get the sale was be pleasant, answer a couple of questions and it was done.

During the conversation it became clear that my colleague undoubtedly knew more than the Sales Associate did. And he’s used to that because he is very up to date on everything to do with computers, etc. – definitely above average in that area. The Sales Associate should have recognized that fact and adjusted his approach accordingly.

Anyway, my colleague was going t o the cash desk to pay for his new laptop and the Sales Associate accompanied him and they chatted about a service agreement that could be purchased with the laptop. My colleague knew all about the service agreement and politely declined.

The Associate would not give in. He pushed and pushed. He made it sound like my colleague’s entire life was going to be ruined if he didn’t buy this service agreement.

Now, at first, you might think “good for him, he’s really trying to sell the high margin service agreement” and, sometimes, we would agree with you. However, this situation went way off track when the Sales Associate started getting ugly. He simply did not want to take no for an answer.

Just a note here…my colleague has purchased many electronic items over the years and is very familiar with the service agreement add-ons. In fact, he was the National Sales Manager for a chain of electronics stores for a very well known brand. He had plenty of experience with service agreements and, in this case, had already made a well informed decision not to purchase it.

Back to the story…After the purchase was completed, the Sales Associate – who had taken on a decidedly unfriendly attitude – smirked and waved good-bye. And he said “good luck with that.” And, yes, he did mean it in an entirely sarcastic way.

He was basically saying that my colleague would have problems with the new laptop and he would be very sorry he didn’t buy the service agreement.

Well, whatever happened to …Let the Buyer Beware? My colleague was prepared to live with the outcome.

What a great experience. After spending several hundred dollars, he had to endure one of the Seven Deadly Sins of Customer Service: Condescension…from a Sales Associate who didn’t know enough about the profession we call sales, or the proper behavior we call courtesy.

All the Success!
DMSRetail Inc.

PS: If you haven’t already, check out the Retail Selling Skills & Customer Service Fundamentals YourTime Study Course. It’s here:

Value Your Customer

Today’s ‘Word to the RetailWise’ is: Make sure your customer knows that you value their business.

It sounds straight forward but, here’s a story about an employee who thought that he was doing me a favor by processing my order! Seriously.

I was driving home from an afternoon spent with relatives in a distant city. I spent about 8 hours in my car that day. I was tired and hungry. So, I stopped at one of those service centres that are dotted along major highways and I went in and placed an order for some food. I had two or three different choices of food vendors.

The employee took my order, and my money, and told me to move aside while I waited for my food. No problem, I didn’t want to be in the way of other customers.

Then, after a few minutes, the employee put my hot sandwich on my tray. He told me t hat the other item I had ordered would be ready in about 5 minutes or so. You know, 5 minutes…’or so’… is not really a long time but, at a fast food restaurant you kind of expect it to be…well, fast.

So, I told him that he should keep the sandwich until my second item was ready. He said “No, you can just go ahead and start eating and then come back when it’s ready.” I told him that I understood that I could but I would rather have them at the same time. His reply was “What’s the problem? You have something to eat, just come back in a few minutes.” And he had a fake smile pasted on his face the whole time.

I was tired and exasperated….tired of these employees who treat me like I’m being difficult…like they really don’t care if they have my business or not.

In no mood for a battle of wits with the guy, I found a place to sit down and I ate my sandwich.

Several minutes later, after I had finished my sandwich, a different employee brought my second item out to me and I thanked him. But I still felt that I wasn’t treated properly. This feeling could have been avoided if the employee I encountered first had responded differently; if he had just shown a tiny bit of respect for his customer. He had plenty of options open to him.

Many might say this is no big deal…but when, exactly, is it a big deal?

Very few companies go down overnight. It’s a gradual process which happens one dissatisfied or disappointed customer at a time. Be good to all of your customers…one at a time.

All the Success!
DMSRetail Inc.

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