Some would say I have the displeasure of being in the shops almost every day. For some people, this is their worst nightmare come true. For me, it’s my job. But it does get tiring, frustrating and overwhelming trying to keep up with new product and new promotions, not to mention the forever changing face of store management and staff.
We all know that retail is struggling. I know that were it not for me bringing in clients, a store on any given day would have pretty average sales figures. What I’ve learnt over the years is that sales staff are under the pump when it comes to meeting daily or weekly sales targets.
Some say that bricks and mortar stores are suffering because customers are shopping online. I disagree. Yes, some people, some of the time, buy online. But I think there’s more to it than that. I think we’ve become so accustomed to retailers going on sale, that very few people are buying at full price and therefore profits are down. And why would we?
I have had many client situations where we’ve been in a store, they’ve loved a particular item that perhaps doesn’t meet their budget there and then, and I’ve advised them to wait a day (yes, one day!) for it to go on sale. And in most instances, it does.
So what is the answer? Do retailers lower their margins and therefore prices so customers are more willing to pay full price? Do they provide more in-house services to improve customer experience so they feel that their spending is more valuable, i.e. stores be more willing to transfer stock from store to store, provide more staff to offer more personalised one on one customer service.
One retailer who I feel does this very well is Country Road. That is, the customer always comes first. If something is not available in store, you can purchase and have it sent straight to your door. No charge. There are always enough staff employed to offer assistance in store, give advice and collect alternative sizes when you’re in the change room. Isn’t that what sales staff are supposed to do I hear you ask? Well technically yes, but with increasing cuts to staffing this happens less and less.
As a personal shopper whose job it is to shop, I see the issues retailers are facing every day. Perhaps this has been a positive for stylists like me because consumers are fed up and will therefore employ the services of a personal shopper to help navigate the retail world.
Either way, I’m hoping the ongoing and constant discounting we’re seeing in retail comes to an end soon. I know this probably disappoints the consumer because I appreciate we all love a bargain, but it’s created a negative merry-go-round of ‘sales’ and false expectation of value.