Auntie Fashion

I’m the fashion world’s most-enduring muse.

Weathering the Storm

with 2 comments

Wal-Mart

Get ready for an onslaught of bad service!

WWD is currently featuring an article titled Fashion’s First Aid Kit that includes interviews with several business leaders concerning the downturn in the retail market.  Citing a “10-point business health plan,” the article’s authors award first place to that old standby of business “Manage costs and overhead.”

Of course that comes up first.  It’s always what comes up first.  Somewhere at the top of the chain there’s an executive who says “We need to cut costs.  Let’s start with layoffs!”

Unfortunately, the problem with retail is that everyone wants to compete with businesses that don’t serve their customers.  I won’t even walk into a Wal-Mart if I don’t have to.  I won’t use a self-checkout anywhere I go.  When I’m spending money in a retail store, I want to be served.

But when the bottom line is being scrutinized, it’s always the employees at the bottom who suffer.  When top executives should be saying “Let’s differentiate ourselves from the competition by training our staff adequately and serving our customers.” they dither in their boardrooms, unaware of the condition of their sales floors.  They’ll dump millions of dollars into advertising how great their service is without spending a dime on those employees who provide great service.  And now no one with the manners to work in retail wants to work in retail.  Who can blame them?

Point number two on the list makes a little more sense.  “Be conservative with sales and inventory” it reads.  Yes, and CONTROL YOUR SHRINKAGE, please!  When I go into stores, I often find no staff on hand and too much inventory on the shelves.  On a busy Saturday, the sales floors and change rooms are littered with clothes that have been mangled on the racks and ripped apart by customers who feel entitled to try on anything and everything.  What doesn’t go out of the door in the hands of shoplifters gets trashed by trashy shoppers.

There’s no shrinkage control on most retail floors nowadays.  What’s worse, though, is that there’s no control of the bad customers who drive up costs by increasing shrinkage.  In most chains where the executives have lost touch with the realities of the retail floor, the staff are obliged to honor that patently false dictum “The customer is always right.”

Yet those customers who would tear up a Wal-Mart sales floor just because they can shouldn’t be shopping in the same places that civilized people shop.  They should be carefully watched by attentive sales staff and asked to leave if their behavior is compromising both the inventory and the way that the store conducts business.

I am so tired of standing at a sales counter where I have to wait behind a difficult customer who can’t be satisfied because they have completely unrealistic expectations of what the retailer owes them.  I’d pay double to shop in a boutique where the staff have the authority to tell the jerks who would rip apart their racks to get out and stay out.  They can go to a Wal-Mart if they don’t want to pay for service.  They don’t need to be allowed to ruin my shopping experience.

It’s time that retailers developed a backbone.  It’s time that they recognized that their good customers shouldn’t be paying exorbitantly higher prices to satisfy the needs of their bad customers.  Nevertheless, I’m a civilized person– a good customer — and I’m more than willing to pay a little extra to keep the savages at bay instead.

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Written by Post Author

July 28, 2008 at 4:35 pm

2 Responses

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  1. “I am so tired of standing at a sales counter where I have to wait behind a difficult customer who can’t be satisfied because they have completely unrealistic expectations of what the retailer owes them. I’d pay double to shop in a boutique where the staff have the authority to tell the jerks who would rip apart their racks to get out and stay out.”

    You just summed up my customer service beliefs. After working in retail for years, I worshiped customers like you because you were so unfortunately few and far between.

    RJ

    July 29, 2008 at 12:11 am

  2. Aww, shucks. Thanks!

    auntiefashion

    July 29, 2008 at 4:31 am


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