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Retail - Some People Should Not be in Retail!!

Updated on January 7, 2016

Retail people need a Good Personality

Do you ever go into a retail business and feel like you are not welcome? There's been no greeting, or even acknowledgement that there is a potential customer who has walked into your shop or business, and you wonder if you have made a mistake by going into the shop.

Years ago, when I was employed in a "secret shopper" role, I approached the local chamber of commerce (local business group) offering my services to do some anonymous reviews of their members businesses. I was also at the time a paid judge for restaurant competitions, and with experience as a "marketing manager" with two major shopping centres, I thought I had the skills to be of assistance in identifying opportunities to improve their bottom line.

Of course, despite my offer to do it for free - it was refused, on the grounds that they didn't need any help in customer service, and they were all excellent at it. The president was well known in the locality for being rude to his customers and on many occasions women in particular ran from his shop in tears. He clearly didn't see that as a problem - perhaps partly because he was making a profit.

Another business nearby, didn't survive. The owner was one of the rudest people I had ever had the misfortune to do business with, and only after my first visit and purchase of product in his store, I resolved never to return. It was no surprise to learn some short time later, that he was closing the business after failure to sell it. Kharma I thought!

I have moved to a small township, with a variety of retail stores in its three shopping centres. None of the centres are very big, but the population of some 4000 support the local business - or at least most of them.

Despite the fact that I work in another field, my knowledge and expertise of my previous life remains, and I often quietly review my shopping experience. Often I deduce that the people behind the counter have not impressed me. Age isn't an issue - I mean, it seems to be both senior and younger staff members that don't impress me. Any customer should be treated with dignity and respect, welcomed, dealt with in a professional manner with an expectation that even if the customer is not able to purchase their product/service of choice for one reason or another, that they should not leave the business with a "sour taste" because of the experience.

There are many skills that are essential for a worker in a retail business - knowing their products, knowing their systems especially the payment ones, and knowing as much as possible about the business so that few errors are made.

You must have the personality for retail. I don't mean that you have to be over bubbly and highly enthusiastic all the time, but you must make sure your customer has a good experience in your store, otherwise they will not return. Smiles help, and genuine interest in the customer and helping him/her purchase the product/s that they were interested in when they came in the store. Alternatively the retail assistant should be able to show the customer other products - not just to upsell but to show the customer other options.

Some of the negatives that one sees in a retail store...

  • Indifference to customers. Often young assistance find it challenging to deal with a senior customer.
  • Lack of knowledge of products
  • Rude, negative, retail assistant
  • No help if the customer is seeking assistance to help with purchase
  • Hurrying a customer because it a lunch break or closing time is nigh

Some of the positives customers like to see

  • Happy and welcoming sales staff
  • Genuine assistance offered
  • Competency in completing the sale, wrapping the product
  • Genuine pleasantries
  • Leaving the customer of feeling comfortable returning to the store in the future.

Sadly, some people think that just having a retail business is enough to create success or wealth. To be VERY SUCCESSFUL it pays to learn what the successful retailers are doing, go to stores and watch how staff behave.

Read some of the great books on the subject, or do a course on retailing - there's bound to be some near you or online. Just go to Dr Google ( and key in "Retailing Courses" or "FREE Retailing Courses") and see what is available.

Develop good skills, learn from experts and keep working to achieve great goals as a retailer.

Read this article for some great information.


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