Top Line Retail

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Top Line Retail

A recent experience with two retail stores, both part of the same large retail chain, started me thinking that maybe retailers’ interest in the top line has gone the way of the Dodo bird.

Just gone.

In many, many retail stores, it seems that no one working there really wants the sale anymore. I’m not talking about wheeling and dealing on price, or haggling, or trying to push merchandise down the customer’s throat. And I’m not talking about giving up margins to blow merchandise out.

I’m talking about doing what can be done to take the customers money when s/he is trying to give it to you.

When a customer wants to pay you for something…shouldn’t you exhaust every possibility before claiming that ‘it can’t be done’?

Here’s the story. You can decide for yourself whether the people in the story care about the top line or not.

Being unable to physically get to ‘the store’ in time to take advantage of a great promotional price of a commodity that I really needed I tried to buy the item (a lot of them, actually) on line. Although the site was difficult to navigate, I did eventually find out that the special price was only applicable to the products purchased ‘in store’.

Fair enough, this company has their ideas about how to market their products and they decided to make this particular price available in store only. So, undaunted and very keen to make my purchase, I called the store in my area.  Based on the amount of business I do with this particular store, and the fact that they know me by name I really (and, obviously, naively) believed they would find a way to help me out with this situation. But, no, I expected too much.

I then called another store, a little further afield, in the same chain. The results were basically the same.

To make a long story short, they would not let me order over the phone using my credit card.  They would not give me a rain check for first thing the next morning when I could get to the store.  They would not agree to give me a phone number for a District or Regional Manager. They did not offer any alternatives. They treated me like I was a nuisance and gave me the impression that they really didn’t think it was important to help me or to make the sale.

All I heard was no, no, no.

Now, I do not expect retailers to jump through hoops for me but I do expect them to respond to reasonable requests and to make, at least, some small effort to sell me their products. Clearly I did not know about the promotion early enough to take advantage of it and that’s just too bad for me.

My point in writing this is not because I missed the deal and not that I was not treated with the respect that I believe I deserve. No, the point is that no one in those stores wanted the sale badly enough to even try to find a way to make it work.

There was no hesitation; just no, no, no.

I’m quite sure that the idea of missing a sale did not even cross their minds. They were aghast when I suggested they get in touch with their District or Regional manager and call me back. No, they wouldn’t do that but they did tell me I could call and complain to their Head Office the next morning and offered me a customer service number.

I didn’t take that number and I did not complain. But will I continue to give them my business? No, I don’t think so.

Unfortunately, I missed out on a deal but, forget my issues and customer service, they missed out on a $300 sale, which is approximately three times their average sale. Giving up a $300 sale did not concern them enough to lift a finger to save it.

Doesn’t the Store Manager have a target or budget s/he is responsible for making every day? And isn’t s/he held accountable for it?

Clearly, top line sales are not important for this retailer. Of course, their Head Office management would disagree. They think all of their employees are out there trying to do their very best for the company. But, as they say, the proof is in the pudding! No, if top line sales were important to this retailer they would be doing more to ensure that their store management and associates were up to speed. No excuses.

Your store management and staff will make you or break you. If you don’t believe that, or understand that, you’re in trouble.

The Dodo bird, as you well know, has been extinct for hundreds of years. They existed for a time, and then they were gone. They were unable to fly, but that had not always been the case. Dodo birds evolved from birds that could fly. Had they continued to be birds of flight maybe they would still be around today.

When we look back on the retail landscape we see a time when certain retailers could ‘fly’, or bring in the top line (profitably, of course), and realize that they became extinct because they could no longer do that which they were made for. And then they were gone.

Don’t let your retail organization go the way of the Dodo bird.

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