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In sales you only get one chance to impress
Using Peak Times to Maximise Sales
This week the annual post-Xmas Boxing Day sales are in full swing. Most retailers have had a poor Xmas sale period with some evening discounting prior to the big day, so the sales this year are hugely important in salvaging lost sales and income as well as clearing excess stock.
The week prior to Xmas this year was huge – in my business we got back on track after a poor first 2 weeks to the month – as people started to spend on Xmas gift.
But think about this – for 51 weeks of the year we try to impress customers with our range of products and services, we market at them and invite them to our stores. But when we get busy, such as in the week before Xmas and the Boxing Day sales we throw these concepts out and get very transactional.
Harry Friedman says that every time we interact with a customer that it’s ‘Showtime’ whether we have one customer waiting or 100. Customers usually only give us one chance to impress them, if we don’t then they may not return to our store again. Let me give you a couple of examples from my visits to a range of shops this Boxing Day – some impressed, some didn’t.
My kids were loaded up with gift cards & cash from Xmas and were desperate to spend it, so we went to a range of shops with spending high on the mind. While we realised that there would be queues, we also hoped for customer service!
The great thing about Rebel Sport is that while they were busy they had a person patrolling the change room area to keep customers flowing in and out of the rooms. The queue was about 15 people deep at the checkout, but as they have 2 locations near each other someone from the less busy store kept coming back to escort customer to another checkout to keep the queue down. This was innovative thinking from some very young staff.
The crowds were huge within Myer with queues of 10-15 at every checkout. Due to the size of the crowd with a lack of staff it was impossible to get help. I noticed in front of me at the checkout that some people were having problems with expired gift cards (they should never expire...they are cash) and this stopped the queue from moving. Returns were another issue with customers being moved from checkout to checkout to get this resolved. Eventually we were served and the consolation was that my $130 shirt was marked down to $45, which was a surprise as it was not reduced on the garment. This experience confirmed my suspicions about the Myer brand, it is struggling to make margin, and so is sacrificing customer service. No wonder that David Jones is continuing to take market share.
This store is an electrical retailer that also specialises in CDs, DVDs and games. My son wanted a new DS game, so we were able to navigate quickly to the area and get the product. Even on slow days JB HiFi can be hard to get assistance, so if you can serve yourself you will have a better experience. We then joined the queue to the checkouts which had about 70 people in the queue already. Believe or not the young pierced and tattooed employees moved that queue along so fast that we were at the head of the queue within 10 minutes. We were then asked by another employee to move to another counter as they were slow – innovation again from a young employee. As my son was making the purchase he wanted to pay and she took the time to give him a great experience, commenting on his purchase, asking if he wanted a back and giving him back the change. This only took an extra minute but made the experience much better for him.
While we were in JB HiFi my wife went into Millers to buy a t-shirt. With just one checkout the queue was getting large, but it wasn’t helped by having an inexperienced employee working the cash register who was making mistakes. The manager walked the floor trying to look busy. To add to the confusion they kept changing where they wanted the queue to form so people lost their places and this caused some anger from the shoppers. This is an example where servant leadership could have been employed with the manager doing the harder job of cashiering allowing the new employee to assist with customer queries.
Smiggle is a stationery brand that my kids adore. The store was nearly empty so the kids had the opportunity to browse, ask questions about the price of goods (they seem to never have the price on anything). Because they had time they even attempted an upsell, apparently if I spent another 15c I could have got an extra stamp!
The girls adore this costume jewellery shop and with a deep discount sale occurring with items from just $1 they couldn’t resist. My 4 years old scourged the store to find 5 items for $5.The queue was skinny so when we got to the head of the queue the cashier took her money, complimented her on the purchases and made sure she got her own pink bag to put them in. She loved the experience and then proceeded to look like Mr T by wearing all items at once!
The tale of this story is that you have only one chance to impress your customers and to find new customers. When the retail gods give you an opportunity to impress, bulk up your staffing, retrain on sales and customer service and get ready for Showtime. You need to use this opportunity to maximise sales and to win new customers for the future.