…I am going to have to go home and think about it.

As I strolled up to the door of the store in a sleety squall, I noticed a woman in her 50s getting out of a new Lexus LS also heading for the door.  I held the door so she could get out of the weather more quickly.  (I was not being chauvinistic just courteous, I would have held the door for anyone.)

As she passed, I observed, “That is a beautiful car.”

“Do you thinks so?” she responded.  “I just got it and I love it.”

“Yes,” I said, “it is quite nice”

“Thank you,” she said as I noticed her Rolex watch.

Why do I mention the Lexus and the Rolex?  Well, anyone in sales learns to recognize simple things about their customers that might help them learn a bit more about the customers.  To me, this person was a person of means.

Once inside the store, we headed in different directions but our paths crossed later again in the camping equipment area.  (Yes, it was an outdoor store.)  While I was  looking over some product, the woman that I came in with was approached by a sales associate who offered assistance.

By Scott Ehardt – Own work, Public Domain,

“I came in to pick up a headlamp.  My friend has one and she really likes it.”

I thought to myself that she was a transactional customer with few requirements.  I figured a few questions from the sales assoiciate would have her on her way with a headlamp in a matter of minutes.  But I was mistaken.

Rather than asking her what she would use the headlamp for or what headlamp headlamp her friend had and liked, the sales associate went into an in-depth clinic on headlamps.

He talked about type of bulbs, lumens versus watts, brightness levels, strap types, brands available, run time claimed by the manufacturer, actual run time, maximum beam distance, red lens options, strobe or non-strobe functions, rechargeable, non-rechargeable and combinations of both, helmet compatibility, blah, blah, blah.  He continued to talk puking product information on her at a truly amazing rate.  As he droned on, never asking her any questions or checking for understanding, you could see the shopper glaze over and take a step back.

After what seemed like an eternity, he finally stopped.  It was at this point that the shopper looked at him with a confused look on her face and said, “You have given me more than enough to think about.  I guess I am going to have to go home and think about it.”  The sales associate simply replied, “Well if you think of any other questions, I will be around” as he turned and walked away.

The woman turned and walked towards the door.

An easy sale completely messed up by the sales associate.  Here was a woman of means who simply wanted a headlamp, maybe like her friends.  Price was not going to be an issue.  A few simple questions would have gotten her a fine headlamp that probably would have more than satisfied her needs.  Instead, her attempt to simply pick up a headlamp was thwarted by an incompetent yet well-meaning sales associate.

The “Expert” – Part 2

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This second post on working with experts looks at the customer that perhaps grossly over-estimates their knowledge, is mistaken or is just plain wrong.

Marshall Field supposedly said “The customer is always right.” This is a great way to proceed with your customers unless they are wrong.

In these situation, you can turn to Aleister Crowley and his less famous quote for guidance “The customer is usually wrong but statistics indicate that it doesn’t pay to tell him so.”  So, what do you do when the customer is wrong?  The key when working with pseudo-experts is to be patient, gentle and respectful.

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I miss Steve

I will admit that I do not buy as much music as I used to.  Part of it may be my age.  Part of it may be the availability of music from other sources (Amazon Prime on Echo).  Part of it may be that I listen almost exclusively to NPR when I am driving near home.

But one of the main reasons is that I have lost touch with Steve.  Steve was not an old friend or a work colleague.  He was not a music reporter for some hip website, publication or YouTube channel.  No, Steve was just an employee of a record shop I used to frequent in Seattle, Silver Platters, at their old South Center location.  I didn’t really know Steve. In fact the time that I ever spoke with him was when he happened to be the cashier that rang up my purchases at the front counter.

Even though we exchanged few words, he did communicate with me and significantly influenced my musical tastes and my purchases.  You see Silver Platters used to have a display located at the front of the store that featured music that the staff members were listening to.  Over time, I came to realize that of all the staff members, Steve had musical tastes that paralleled mine the closest.  If Steve recommended a cd (this was the early 00s), I would buy it.  I was never disappointed.  I miss Steve and his musical recommendations.

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You have no idea…

optic

Last fall I was in the market for a new tent and after doing some research, I narrowed the choices down to just three.  Given my size, I like to try tents out before I buy them so I headed out to the local Mountain Hardwear shop where they had the Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 in stock.

Having done my research ahead of time, I knew the statistics on the tent such as dimensions, weight, packed size and materials.  I also knew the price.  At $240, it is a moderately priced tent in the Mountain Hardwear line, where tents can range to over $500.

I arrived at the store nicely dressed and freshly showered.  As I entered the store, I was greeted warmly by the person near the cash wrap as I made my way to the back of the store to the tent department.  As luck would have it, the Optic 2.5 was actually set up on the sales floor for display.  This kept me from going through the hassle of asking to have the tent set-up.  As I bent down to crawl into the tent, a clerk approached me.

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The poor backpack

Not the poor backpack

Not the poor backpack

There it sat, right in the middle of the aisle, the poor backpack. It had fallen from an overstocked fixture and now it sat in the middle of the main aisle circling the store. I am not sure how long it had been there when I spotted it.

Being small, the pack did not block traffic and was easy enough to walk around or step over. I figured that if it was still on the floor when I got to it, I would put it back on the fixture.

As I stood watching, I noticed two employees walking up the aisle towards the backpack. Ah, I thought, I won’t have to pick up the pack, surely one of these two employees will.  I was wrong.  In fact, one actually stepped over the pack and continued up the aisle.

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If I were to buy furniture today…Part 2

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Chilton Table in Spalted Sugarberry by Room & Board

As we continued through Room & Board, I was feeling less and less inclined to spend any money there and was anxious to leave.

But then, towards the back of the store, we found ourselves standing in front of an interesting piece, the Chilton Table in Spalted Sugarberry. My wife and I looked at one another and began to talk about how we both truly admired the table.  We also admitted that neither of us cared all that much for our current dining room table bought less than 3 years ago.

As we stood examining the table and discussing how a table like this would be great to have in our home, an amazing thing happened.  Amazing since I had long since given up hope that anyone would ever greet us much less offer any help.

A smiling Room & Board employee stepped up to a nearby computer terminal to lookup some information. While going about her business, she turned to my wife and I and said, “Isn’t it a beautiful table?”

“It is beautiful,” my wife responded.

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Spotted at Macy’s

Macy's evending 2       Macy evending

I spotted this on a recent visit to Macy’s.  The vending machine was located next to the men’s wear department. The machine contained a variety of small electronics and accessories.

It seems like an interesting way to increase assortment and profitability without requiring the store to have knowledgable staff to sell the items. I imagine a third-party service maintains the machines.

Useful POS

Dockers POS

I always appreciate point of sale materials that are both useful and well designed.

I saw this POS display designed for those of us who are a bit “fashioned-challenged” at my local JCPenney. (JCP clearly knows their target audience since not many “fashion-forward” men are shopping at JCP and many of their male shoppers made need some guidance.)

Shoppers do not need to know the lingo of the fashion industry to buy a pair of pants, they can simply look at the illustrations and read the description to decide which pants to buy.  Nice job Dockers and JCP.

Too bad it makes no mention of actually taking the pants into the dressing room and trying them on.  But that is a different issue.

A nice finish

omnitechI stopped at the local Outlet Mall the other day to do some shopping and some observation.  It was a warm and sunny day and may of the stores had their doors open to deal with the heat.

Being a fan of the brand and a citizen of the PNW, I stopped by the Columbia Sportswear Outlet where they had a great sale going on.  I quickly found several items that I was shopping for so I headed to the registers where there were a number of waiting cashiers.

“I can help you right here,” came a greeting from the nearest register.

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Please add value

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Retailers would have you believe that Memorial Day Sales cannot be missed.  The advertisements make it sound like the stores are giving things away for next to nothing.  Caught up in the fervor, my wife and I headed out on Monday to catch the end of some of the sales.

As we wandered through one of the stores something caught my wife’s eye.  Uninterested, I continued to wander through the store when a customer interaction caught my eye.  So I moved in for a closer look. Something just didn’t seem right.

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