Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Retail for the masses

I read recently an article as to the least and most favorite stores listed by consumers. Being in the retail industry, this greatly intrigued me. As I read however, the article was not what it claimed it would be but more of a complaint list about stores in general.

I have been a retail manager for nearly thirty years. In this blog I long ago decided I would neither mention my company by name, promote it or complain about it. It does however give me insight into how retailers do business in this day and age and one of the aspects of my company is they truly want a customer service ethic in their staffs. If you don't get it it is more the fault of that particular store than the company as a whole.

That being said, one of the complaints listed in the article was the lack of customer service. The author stated stores do nothing more than train cashiers and spies to catch thieves. Also stated was retailers cut staff and only bring in lower quality merchandise to keep prices low.

Well, mister author of the article, that has happened as a direct result of what the consumer has wanted over the years. Consumers long ago made the decision to shop at places that had the cheapest prices. Unfortunately, cheaper prices means lower quality. Years ago I worked for an independent hardware store. People would routinely come in to get our advise on how to fix a problem, kill a weed, grow grass or paint their house. They would then leave and go to the big-box retailer and buy a product that was cheaper, not spending their dollars with us. This was a common trend which is why the local hardware store was forced to go out of business. Large retailers are able to buy cheaper in bulk than can a local business but that doesn't mean they put their dollars into better product. Then the local guy is there to pick up the pieces when things go wrong, and they do that a lot.

As for service? The consumer doesn't want service. They want someone to complain to. They buy cheap goods and want someone to complain to when the shirt rips, fades or the part fails. Customers buy at mass marketers because the price is cheap. I had a customer that complained yesterday that he was unable to use a coupon that expired two months ago. Customers only want what they want. If you bought a cable six months ago, no you can't return it, it now belongs to you and not my store. I don't care it you have a receipt. It's yours, sell it at a yard sale.

Even lower pricing doesn't stop the flow of thievery. Retail theft runs in the billions and billions of dollars yearly. Stores are forced to combat this in some manner and it invariably involves electronic deterrents and staff that must work to keep the merchandise inside the store.

Consumers have made their choices and now must learn to live with the consequences. If you want service, go to a store that offers it but don't be rude or argumentative to their staff. They are there to help you and solve your issues. Remember they are your problems, not theirs. Don't make it out to be their fault.

As for the painting thing: if you ever actually read the back of a paint can and did what the manufacturers say to do to apply paint properly, I'll bet 75% of people would then hire a painter. Read a paint can someday, the instructions are there for a reason.

No comments:

Post a Comment