Word to the RetailWise XII

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Manage the checkout lines to avoid aggravating your paying customers!

Business must have picked up a bit lately because, over the past few weeks, I’ve been stuck in checkout lines fairly regularly. I’ll tell you a short story below…

While having more customers is great for business…it’s what we all want, after all…it does make it a little more difficult on Store Managers because they have to  manage the checkout line; something that should be simple and taken for granted … but rarely is.

Here’s an example: I was standing in a checkout line along with about ten other people – you know those lines where you wait until a machine says “Number 4 please, number 4”? – And I was tired of waiting…I needed to get going.

Apparently, the other people had places to be also because no one was happy.

The problem…which is a glaring one and I will never understand why some Store Managers have difficulty with this…is that there were 8 cash registers and only 2 of them were open.

Only 2 employees in the store were assisting customers at the checkout. 

Making matters worse, behind the cash desk (a very long cash counter in this case) there was one employee clearly very interested in paperwork; another one was on the telephone.

When a customer – ok, I admit it was me – called out to one of the cashiers and asks, very politely, “Isn’t there another cashier you could call to help out up here?”, the response was simply “no”. 

A few more comments were made, back and forth, with the result of another cashier opening a cash register. Enough said.

It has to make you wonder why so many store associates are perfectly happy to allow customers to stand in long line ups when something could easily be done about it.

And, it makes you wonder who is hiring these people.

The Store Manager, who is nowhere to be found, is clearly not the type who gets concerned about long checkout lines, and is the same person who hired these associates.

So, what can we expect?

I know many of you have this all figured out.

But, to those of you who don’t have proper check out management practices in place, and think it’s no big deal, please understand that this is not just an occasional problem.

It happens all the time and, I assure you, it is a big deal to the customers waiting and wasting their precious time while associates hang out at the cash desk – unwilling to jump in and help out during the busy time. 

No customer is happy…or even understanding when, clearly, they could be checked out much more efficiently if only there were more associates operating cash registers.

This is not a difficult concept to grasp. 

It’s very important that you show respect for your customer’s time.

Manage the checkout line and make sure all store associates understand the importance of doing so.

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Retail Management Personnel…get comfortable with Retail Math.

When thinking about retail management training, one subject comes to mind as being the one so many retail management people steer clear of. That’s retail math.

Retail math is really not anywhere near as complicated as many would think.

It is a component of retail management training programs because it needs to be, to some degree at least.

Key Performance Indicators, or KPI’s as they are most often referred to, are absolutely crucial for any business. Retail is no different. 

The level of retail math knowledge required differs for all levels of the organization.

Although Store Managers generally are not required to get involved in buying or inventory allocation or budgeting, etc. it is still a good idea for them to have a basis for understanding.

Store Managers would be most interested in the retail math that is applied at store level.

Just to determine how they are doing against prior years and against targets, they need to know how to do the simplest of calculations.

Add to that the need to determine how each of their employees is doing compared to targets the company has set in different areas, and the Store Manager needs to understand a bit more retail math. 

Remember, if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. 

And, going one step further, if you don’t know exactly how you are measuring it and how to interpret the results…you still can’t manage it.

Even the Store Manager who only needs to understand sales, wage cost, average sale and conversion to list a few of the more common ones, a level of understanding is required. 

Retail math, as part of the retail management training process, is an exciting part of the whole picture.

Gaining an understanding of retail math lets the Store Manager put everything in perspective.

Once competent in making all of the calculations for KPI’s pertinent to his/her store, the Store Manager gains new insight into exactly what is going on in their store.

It’s like having the blindfold removed. Suddenly, everything makes sense.

And that is the starting point for watching those KPI’s improve. Just knowing all of the components makes it easy to see what needs to be improved upon.

The Store Manager who knows some retail math will be able to focus on certain measurables and interpret results much more easily.

If you haven’t done so already, make a point of learning some retail math.


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