Re Tales – Part Seven – The Sale

Every shop has a sale some time. Not the regular sales over the counter of everyday commerce – a SALE that involves vast quantities – of many different things:

a. Time. Even a small impromptu sale that the owner thinks up the last minute before going on holiday involves days and hours of preparation, conduct, and accounting. Fortunately they are on holiday and have left their phone at home. The staff will cope…

b. Advertising. No good trying to get more customers in the door if they do not know where the door is or why they might want to come in. So the retailer spends money with the newspapers, phone book company, on-line IT experts ( the ones that are out of the asylum that week ) and leaflet distributors. The richer retailers use radio and television to blow the trumpet – the more frugal ones just buy trumpets and blow them themselves. 3:00 AM in the car park of the shopping centre is a trying time…

c. Preparation. Re-tagging all the sale stock is a pain. Particularly if you need to re-re-tag it after it hasn’t sold. And you need to be accurate in your pricing. ” Whatever ” is not a price tag that will make a profit for the shop.

Beware of customers who shift full-price stock into the sales bins and then magically ” find ” it and rush to the till. They will then demand to have it for an imaginary price, quoting God and Magna Carta as justification. It is best to have a short club handy.

d. Staff. No-one can stand sales pressure on their own so the wise manager will arrange for extra staff to be present. They may be rostered in on a schedule or just thrown in willy-nilly as the fatalities occur. Warn them that normal meal, break and toilet amenities are suspended for the sale period – if necessary quote Magna Carta. With a bit of luck this regime will seem natural and can be extended to the rest of the year.

e. Old unsalable stock. This is the core of the sale – after all, if it all went out regularly, there would be no need for all the other extra work. Old unsalable stock may be perfectly good, but so far no-one outside of the store’s buyer and the wholesaler have ever thought so. Now is the time to convince others by lowering the price.

Make no mistake about it. People will spend money and buy anything if they think it is a screaming bargain. Discount death and give vouchers for subsequent deaths and people will line up to pay. This is the principle of a great many school holiday motion picture series.

If you have no junk to sell, contact the wholesalers and ask them to take you out to a long lunch and get you drunk. You’ll eventually wake up with loose clothing and a warehouse full of broken cartons of stock from 2003.

f. Accountancy. No matter what you get for the schmatta, you’ll still have to do the paperwork to write it off. A successful sale pays for the accountant’s time – really successful ones are where you trade old stock to the accountant instead of a fee.

The Perth Retail Experience

A note before I write: I was a staff member in the Perth retail experience for 8 years…well actually a lot longer if you consider the work done in my student days. I can speak from both sides of the counter.

This last week has seen the real gamut of retail – in my case I was a customer in two big retail shops dealing with hardware and stationery – and two small shops that trade upon their own. None of them shared common stock – I needed different things in each place.

The process of finding and selecting the goods was similar – go and look and take it to the counter for payment. In two cases I looked at the store’s catalogue online to make sure they had it – and in two instances rang ahead to confirm.

Little shop A had 7 or of 8 items I went for- being out of stock of one paint colour. No biggie – I’ll be there again many times. The checkout was done in 3 minutes and was very pleasant. I had a credit for past purchases and the computer dealt with that brilliantly. Couldn’t be happier.

Little shop B had foam-core board and kneadable erasers. Again, they answered the phone faultlessly and the checkout went like clockwork. Good visit.

Big Shop C had what I needed – toilet washers to fix a leaking cistern, but there was only one staff member on duty at one till out of 5…and a line of disgruntled customers who waited as the computer ground slowly through the entire warehouse stock chain to ensure that the trading statistics would be done. I pitied the staff member who was taking the brunt of complaint for the store’s inefficiency and foolish policies. I’ve been that person…

Big Shop D had the plastic sheet I wanted on their website, but not in the first mega-store I went to. Even with a visit to the front desk, there was no sign of it. Well, that happens. I thought, on reaching home, to re-check the website and to ring another of their branches to see if it was in stock there.

I ended up ringing 3 branches and getting a automatic menu but no answer to the phone at all. I was left wondering if their office works…

Will I rant? Rave? Howl at the moon? No…I’ll try ringing again tomorrow to save petrol. Frustration is no help to a project.

 

 

Treasure The Honest Shopkeeper

If you find a shopkeeper who will refuse to sell you something on the basis that it is not right for you, you have a gem.

These people may be hard to find – but if you enter into conversation with them over a regular basis -and if it is a genuine and respectful exchange…you can find a whole new world of intelligent help out there.

I talk regularly to the family who run our local post office agency – and to the lady and the chap who run the Asian food store in the shopping centre. I talk to the man who runs the bottle shop, and to the lady who is teller at my local bank. The result is I get told how to cook well with the Asian ingredients, when to change my deposits for good interest rates, and how to send postal items safely at low cost.

Occasionally the bottle shop man warns me off a dud or mentions a good deal. I am always repaid for listening.

Moral: Your local retailers are human beings who appreciate being treated as such and who  will  make your life better if you recognise the fact.

Boy! I Say, Boy!

A recent Facebook conversation raised the subject of retail shopping and the interaction between customers and staff. In particular, the first greetings and subsequent conversation. As we’ve all been either a customer or a staff member at some time, we all know the sounds…and the fury.

a. ” How ya Goin’, Guys? ”

This is a fine staff greeting if you are a dignified 60+ senior sales consultant approaching elderly ladies in an up-market and elegant shop. It’ll really strike a chord with them and lead to them making many expensive purchases.

Actually, you’ll be lucky not to get the point of a parasol in your eye.

b. ” Sup, Dudes? ”

This is even better. Only this one you use on the 15-year-old customer. The fact that you are dressed in a three-piece suit of cavalry twill and look like a British Major of Guards makes the sound and words even better. The youth will not be able to equate the experience with the visual and may fall gibbering to the floor. Call the clean-up crew to aisle 4.

c. ” May I help thee, Friend? ”

In Pennsylvanian Dutch neighbourhoods this would pass unnoticed. In Perth it is noticed…but the customer may not know what to do with it. It is particularly amusing for the Asian client, as it crosses a number of cultural barriers in several directions at the same time.

Thou must be consistent with thy use of the language and are honour-bound to be kind, helpful, and cheerful whilst thee are doing it. If thou hast a full beard but a shaven upper lip the effect is particularly good. Female staff may wish to wear a poke bonnet and an apron whilst serving.

d. ** Click. Click. Snap. Snap. **

The sound of South African or South Asian fingers doing the ” Come Hither ” song. It is one of the folk-dances of their cultures – but one that the Department of Immigration has failed to confiscate from them at the airport.

In their home countries it is used to summon and ginger up the coloured servants. If the snapper is also coloured, it is used on their lower-caste compatriots. Presumably it works, and probably has a counterpart when there is a motor car involved. Horn tooting.

Here in Australia it can call forth some amazing responses on the part of shop staff. Perhaps the kindest is to waggle the forefinger in the South America ” NoNoNoNo ” gesture and simple say ” That is not done here in Australia. ” Or one can break into an impromptu flamenco dance with continued finger popping and a final ” Ole! “.

e. ” Boy! ”

Also an overseas specialty, but can be seen to cut closer to the bone and to spill more blood. It is particularly dangerous when black people are involved in the conversation on either side.

The only really effective counter is to immediately effect a Steppin Fetchit shuffle and a ” Yassuh, Boss ” accent and overplay the comic coon by about 560%. If you can do this while being an elderly white person dressed in a suit you will create a deserted zone that makes Ground Zero at Alamogordo look like an ant farm. A little soft shoe shuffle never goes amiss…

f. ” May I offer some assistance, Sir…( or Madam )? ”

Speak softly. Smile. Be courteous. Behave as a lady or a gentleman would behave. It is a position from which you need never resile.

Note: If you are a customer and respond to this treatment by being polite, kind, and courteous in return, you will discover that the transaction will be made very much to your benefit. And you will be treated extremely well on every time you return. The staff do remember.

 

 

The Little World – The New Shop

I visited the new hobby shop this week – it has moved a couple of miles closer to my house. Probably to be closer to my bank account…

The new premises are larger and more imposing than the last ones, and the highway that they sit beside is one of the busiest in the metro area. I was a little disconcerted to find that you can only approach the car park from one direction on that highway, and that getting there will require some degree of planning, but the work will be worth it – they have a very complete line of goods that the builder needs.

And they are well-placed to serve a section of our city that has no other outlet. All the other shops are way away out in other quarters of the town – a cut lunch and water bag trip in some cases. This one is 4 miles from my door and I love it.

I took them a bottle of port wine to celebrate the opening. I daresay by the end of the first rainy Saturday, if the customers had been cranky and the computers stopped working, they cracked the bottle and drowned their sorrows.

Only one awkward thing for the workers – the cabinets full of goodies have a key lock at the bottom of the glass. Every time you ask to get an accessory out of them the staff member serving you has to get down on the floor to open it. This will tell on their clothing, backs, and knees. It was the same for the Camera Electronic store for the first 6 years of my job there – we fought with the keylocks every day. Once the new cabinets with invisible electronic locks were installed, the task was much lighter.

Too often the design of retail premises is not thought through – the goods are either left unprotected or locked up so tightly that the natural flow of sales is checked. It really is a geometric and operational jigsaw puzzle. As one of the salespeople I found that there were some items that were impossible to display and sell at the same time, and some concepts – like on-counter impulse bins – were so penny-catching as to degrade the whole sales floor. The one thing that I was able to do in my time that smartened up the mess was to institute a system of standardised signage for different divisions. We used Gill Sans for the typeface and A4 for the standardised size. It all worked well.

 

Beer Code Bar Code

barcode

I can’t think why no-one has instituted this yet.

You get two bar code tattoos on your forearm – one is for a pint of your favourite beer, and one is your BSB banking details.

Then, instead of standing an a confused gaggle of punters at the local pub trying to get the bar tender’s attention, waving $ 50 notes, and making entitled noises, you merely roll up your sleeve and slide your arm out on the bar.

The bar tender scans it and when a green light goes on over the appropriate beer tap indicating that the order has been received and the money debited from your account, draws the pint and places it in your hand. No language barrier and startling efficiency. If they do this well all night you roll up the other sleeve and expose a bar code that will provide them with a tip.

You cannot leave home without your beer code bar codes!

Who says technology can never be beneficial?

Call The Front Desk, Steve

Steve

****BLOING BLOING!**** ” Please call the front desk, Steve.”

Visiting the local Spotlight shop this morning, I was moving through the craft supplies aisle looking for a

****BLOING BLOING!**** ” Will the manager please call the front desk.”

As I said I was looking for a couple of

****BLOING BLOING!**** “Please call the front desk, Steve.”

Okay, they must be around this

****BLOING BLOING!***” Will the manager please come to the front desk.”

Oh for the love of

****BLOING BLOING!****” Please call the front desk , Steve.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..I left. Empty-handed, and with my money still in my pocket. As I passed the front desk I called it Steve…