Take responsibility for providing Buyers with merchandise feedback.
The Buyer’s in your retail operation may be incredibly talented…but they are not mind readers. Whenever they purchase goods that will be available for sale in the stores, they rely on their skills, talent and experience. It’s their job to get the right merchandise into the stores at the best margin they can make on it. Let’s face it…that’s got to be tough. Their mistakes will always be noticed.
So, store personnel need to do their part to help out.
How often have you heard a Sales Associate complaining that the Buyer’s don’t know what they’re doing and the Buyer’s complaining that the Sales Associates don’t know how to sell? It’s very common.
Anyway, from a Store Operations perspective, know that once the goods arrive in your store you must take ownership of them. What else are you going to do? The company owns the merchandise and it’s your job to get them sold.
First, and foremost, store personnel need to be up to speed with product knowledge; all the features and benefits. The merchandise needs to be displayed properly, etc. Ideally, you sell out at first price!
In that case, the Buyer’s will likely get the picture without much feedback from you. They have numerous reports that show them what is moving and what isn’t. Of course, it’s still a good idea to let them know why a particular item was so popular.
However, if you have difficulty moving the merchandise after all of your best sales efforts, it may mean that there is something about it that the customer is not happy with. Your job is to figure out what that something is and ensure the feedback gets to the Buyer. After all, you’re in the best position to know.
If you don’t provide credible feedback and more of that same merchandise is purchased, the company will be less profitable than it could be. And no one wants that.
So, keep notes regarding the merchandise offered for sale in your store – good and bad – and make sure it gets to the right people. Remember to give honest, unbiased feedback; be impeccable with what you say. The Buyer has a big job to do, too!
Look at your store – including windows, cash desk, fitting rooms (if any)displays, etc. – from your customer’s point of view.
Literally…position yourself exactly the way a customer would.
Walk past your windows, stroll around looking at displays and signage, touch the merchandise, if applicable try a garment on and see what the fitting rooms are like, etc.
Many would say that they do all of these things as a routine and they complete a checklist to ensure everything is perfect. But that is not what we’re suggesting. Anything that has become routine enough to be added to a checklist can easily be dismissed, glossed over or taken for granted. You know what we mean, don’t you?
The point here, is to determine what the customer sees and senses, not whether policies and procedures are being followed.
Are the windows too crowded? Is there dust anywhere? Are the lights aimed properly or do they shine in your face? Are they casting an unusual color of light onto the merchandise? Is there room to move around freely? Are the signs clear or confusing? Are there any sharp edges, pointy hooks, loops in the carpet or anything else that could represent a safety hazard? Is there gum stuck to the floor?
Are the employees well groomed? Are they all poised and ready to assist? Do you like the music that’s playing? Is the door to the backroom or receiving area propped open revealing a not so pretty picture? Are the mirrors and glass all crystal clean?
When standing at the cash desk – remember…from the customer’s side – what do you see? A mass of wires coming out of the POS? Merchandise, paperwork or supplies piled high? Dust? Cashier’s notes stuck all over everything?
What the customer sees and senses, while in your store, is really important. There are plenty of other things you can look for when you do your customer walkthrough. Only you can come up with them all for your particular business. This is just a start.
Aim to perform this exercise often, but spontaneously.