Category Archives for Retail Sales


How on earth can this happen? Opra Winfrey calls it a Racist moment, however I call it nothing out of the ordinary in business today. Sales people in retail are struggling all over the world.

This woman working as a sales person in a Zurich high end store walked away from a major sale.

For once this sales loss became world news. A ridiculously high cost hand bag, no doubt covered in glitter. The woman would not show it to Opra and indicated it was out of her price range. Unfortunately Opra sees it as a racist comment but this is standard practice in many stores world wide.

Sales people for some reason just make too many assumptions, they judge customers by appearance, possibly look at their race but generally these sales people have had no sales training and have never attended Sales Classes or have ever had the chance to attend a sales course of any kind. They may understand features of their products but have very little understanding on what their customers wish to buy. Unless they ask their customer questions how can they expect to sell high value product?
This episode in Switzerland is nothing unusual, people who sell high ticket items, especially in retail have no sales training, there Sales Manager (if they have one) has usually had no Sales Managers Training either.

Can you just imagine how this sales person in Switzerland must have felt after all this publicity? It is easy to criticize her but it is not her fault. I can guarantee she does not know the difference in sales skills between making a high value sale as opposed to a simple sale.

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Electrical Retailers: Should I Buy Online or Offline?

Many questions have been asked about electrical retailers and their role in business, since the advent of the internet. Many consumers now go online to order their dish washers, washing machines, electric tooth brushes, fridges, cookers, tvs and other household appliances. It does not matter if it is a large domestic appliance or a small one, very often people are prepared to order on faith via a good online electrical shop.

The electical business is very competive and news reports during the year have shown many companies slashing prices of their “white goods” please note “white goods” is another name for household or domestic appliances.

Personally, although I do shop online; I tend to visit an electical shop before purchasing things like fridges etc. The reason for this is probably based on a story told to me by a dear friend. I asked this friend why he would spend 125 pounds (250 US dollars) on a bottle of wine when it is obviously 25 times the price of a bottle purchased online. His answer was interesting he said that he wasnt paying for the bottle of wine alone. He was in fact paying for the ambience, the location, the fine table clothes, the great service, privacy and discretion, the discerning style and absolute class and the time to associate and interact with the human race. Now it may be pushing it a bit to compare this experience to buying white goods, but I hope you get the point!

Just a couple of weeks ago I checked the prices of a dish washer. The best price I could find online was 259 pounds, This included installation. After a bit of bartering with the manager of the local electrical store I was able to secure the same for 279 pounds. Although the 20 pounds may have seemed a lot more. This is how I gained, We had some good fun in the store, chatting with the staff. We met up with some old friends and were able to catch up on old times.

After this my wife and I were able to have some quality time over a cup of coffee. When the dish washer appliance was delivered, about 2 hours later! The guys from the shop were able to nip back to the shop and pick up a particular electrical part to make our machine legal. Officially they were supposed to get an electrican in which for what they had to do would have been silly. So all in all, we had a good time felt special and most importantly did business with a local electrical retailer selling domestic appliances on a personal basis.

By the way, the manager also gave me his phone number to call if ever we had a problem or if we needed a washing machine or any other kitchen appliance. Beat that!

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Retail Sales: Acknowledge Potential Customers in Retail Selling

Wal-Mart may conger up some images for you, yet one thing Wal-Mart does is to have a Greeter to make people feel welcome. Even the old K-Mart use to announces “Welcome K-Mart shoppers.”  Unfortunately, after the Greeting or the welcome message, you get lost in the sea of people and merchandise and it’s next to impossible to find someone to show you where to find what you’re looking for, because they’re too busy stocking shelves.

So always greet your customers.  If all your people are busy with other customers, someone should at least acknowledge the new entrant.  Even the post office gives you a number.  Don’t ignore them or make them feel like an intruder.  Let them know how long the wait will be and point them to a sitting area where they can peruse or sit with a bottle of water, look at a video promo or experience pleasantness.  This is a good captive advertising moment.  If your facility is big with lots to see, have a map with a numbered walking tour.

Burn this into your staff’s heads.  People are coming into your establishment for ideas and/or to buy. Both are good for your business.  The better the experience the more they will buy and buy and buy.

Lose “Can I help you?”

It’s like asking the Pope, “Are you Catholic?”  As I said above, people come into your place of business for a reason.  Of course you can help them.  However, to do this your front-line people have to: (1) Make them comfortable; (2) Find out why they came in (their motivation); and (3) Find out what their perfect something looks like, that they are willing to spend and spend and spend on.

Now let’s wrap this up.  Make your customer have a wonderful experience in your Center.  To do this you will have to first convince yourself that it’s all about the customer.  I’m not saying to succumb to abusive people that give no energy and waste your time.  I am saying, however, if they are a motivated buyer and they have a pleasant experience, they may buy a lot more than they originally intended and they will tell their friends how great it was.

Second, show your employees what to do.  Don’t think for one minute they should know what to do, or that you will insult their intelligence by spelling it out.  This is your Center, and it should be done your way.  They don’t know your way unless you tell them, and it’s your responsibility to tell them explicitly.  Otherwise, they won’t succeed.  You’ll get upset and the demotivating cycle will begin.

Finally, you have to monitor and give feedback.  Look for the positives. “That part of what you did was good.”  Don’t tell what was done wrong, but rather how to do it better the next time.  “In the future, try doing this or that.”  Realize, you cannot just instruct and turn your employees loose.  Until there is recognition, reinforcement and reward, the behaviors you desire will not happen.  So, to insure success make your business establishment a pleasant experience.

And now I invite you to learn more by reading other posts on this blog.

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Caveat Venditor: Why a Retailer Sells Goods at His Own Peril

Copyright (c) 2008 Law Offices of Jonathan Cooper

Many small business owners that I’ve encountered are surprised to learn that under New York law, anyone in a product’s chain of distribution can be held liable for injury that results from the foreseeable use of the product. This law includes a retailer, who may have just put that product on his shelf without ever opening the box, and a distributor, who merely transported the product from one destination to the other. Under this scenario, neither the retailer nor the distributor was actively at fault for the product’s defect or the plaintiff’s accident – and they can still be held liable. Does that sound scary from the retailer or distributor’s perspective? It sure is.

The Plaintiff’s Burden of Proof in a Products Liability Action

In very basic terms, in order to prevail in a products liability action, a plaintiff needs to prove two things: first, that the product is defective, i.e., the product is so likely to be harmful to persons or property that a reasonable person who had actual knowledge of its potential for producing injury would conclude that it should not have been marketed in that condition, and, second, that the defect was a substantial factor in causing plaintiff’s injuries.

The plaintiff can meet this burden of proof by demonstrating one of the following: (1) this specific product was defectively manufactured; (2) the product was defectively designed; or, (3) the safety warnings accompanying the product were inadequate.

At first blush, this law seems particularly tough on middlemen like the retailer and distributor, which presumably have little to no input in either the manufacture or design of the product, or the warnings that are placed on the product. However, it bears mention that these entities reap the financial rewards from selling the product. Consequently, the courts have opined that in the interests of assuring that a plaintiff with a legitimate defective products claim has a viable and readily available party from whom he or she can be compensated (as opposed to a foreign manufacturer with no connection to the plaintiff or place of occurrence), it is fair to hold the middlemen liable for the product’s failures.

This law does not leave retailers or distributors without recourse; to the contrary, they are still entitled to seek indemnity and/or contribution from the responsible party (generally, the manufacturer). On the other hand, clearing the technical and procedural hurdles necessary to get indemnity from the manufacturer is often far from simple, particularly where the manufacturer is foreign.

Assumption #1: The manufacturer has the requisite minimum contacts with the forum of the claim. In order to obtain personal jurisdiction over the foreign manufacturer, you must demonstrate that the manufacturer either transacts business or has some other tangible nexus with the forum state (see, e.g., New York Civil Practice Law and Rules §302).

Assumption #2: The manufacturer’s host country is a signatory to the Hague Convention’s Service of Process Rules. If Assumption #1 can be satisfied (which is uncertain at best), you will still need to assure that your legal papers are personally served on the manufacturer. This in turn requires that the manufacturer is not only readily located, but can be served under the Hague Convention’s rules.

Assumption #3: The manufacturer is a viable entity with collectible assets. It goes without saying that a paper judgment against a defunct corporation is utterly worthless.

So how can a domestic retailer or distributor protect itself against products liability claims? Here are a few suggestions:

3 Easy Steps to Protect Your Retail Business Against Defective Products Claims

Step #1: Make sure that those entities above you in the chain of distribution carry adequate products liability insurance from a domestic, well-reputed and established insurer that specifically names your company as an additional insured on the policy. Do not rely on the manufacturer’s claim that you are named on the policy; get confirmation directly from the insurer (I have seen instances where the declaration sheet provided by the other party to the agreement was a complete fabrication).

Step #2: Make sure that you have an agreement that indemnifies you against any claim of a product defect that is not of your own doing. Stated otherwise, if you are a retailer or distributor, you should be indemnified against any claims of manufacturing or design defect and/or inadequate warnings.

Step #3: Try to assure that those companies directly above you in the chain of distribution have a domestic presence, such as an office or agent for service of process.

While following these rules may cost some time and money in the short run, these safeguards are indispensable, for they may ultimately save your company from needless exposure to financial ruin.

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Mervyns Shuts its Doors

I wonder if their sales people understood the difference between making simple sales and making major sales?

The Hayward, California-based Mervyns department store chain, battered by financial troubles, has announced that it is going out of business, according to the ociated Press.

The 59-year-old retail chain will close permanently after Christmas-season liquidation sales at its 149 stores in 10 states.

“Although we took a number of steps to improve our financial performance, we were unable to return the company to profitability,” CEO John Goodman said.

Mervyns filed for bankruptcy protection in July in an effort to work through its debts, but executives said they found no way out.

Goodman cited the company’s “declining liquidity position and the extremely challenging retail environment.”

The impact will be mainly on entry-level workers, said Jeff Rowe, director of the Stanislaus Alliance Worknet, which ists job seekers.

“It ends up being really tough on teenagers who need some income to support themselves and their families, people who are working for the first time and people who are trying to get off public istance,” he said.

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What are some of the major differences between retail sales and…?

Here is another post from Yahoo questions…. Interesting!

The sales of “intangibles”? I sold insurance for ten years, took a break for the last seven years, and now am getting back into sales. Possibly, retail sales of furniture to start and go from there. What are some of the major adjustments I will be facing in sales style, approaches, and prospecting?

As said above, tangible sales are generally easier, likewise, sales where people come to you are easier than going to them.

Since you mentioned Furniture, and it happens to be my expertise, I’ll use that as an example. Every furniture stores have their own sales techniques they employ, and to a certain extent, you are limited by what each store’s philosophy is.

Furniture sales is about the customer not the product. Each sale is made or lost based on you ability to read and adapt to each individual customer. Your job is to identify what it is the customer is looking for and help them make it happen. I don’t mean, find out they want a couch, that’s easy, I mean find out what a customer wants from furniture. Comfort, Style, Durability? Then you can present how your product best helps them meet their goals. Furniture sales is easy because its a low pressure approach. If you can make a customer forget you’re a salesperson, and you product can meet their needs, you win.

Good Luck!

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How can I get experience in working for retail/sales, if no one will hire me?

Interesting questions and answers from Yahoo. Comments welcome.

I want to get a job for a supermarket or for a Petsmart store, but I have no experience in working in retail/sale. I’ve applied for a job for stores before, and I guess they didn’t want to hire me because I have no experience. These stores were hiring at the time. How can I get a job in retail/sale, if no one will hire me?

make sure when you fill out the application you are very careful to make sure you spell everything correctly and fill it out completely. Also, make sure you fill it out a neatly as possible.

I have managed several retail stores, if the applicant could not follow directions on the application I would not even check references or call the person back for an interview.

Also, make sure you are properly attired when you pick up and return the application. If you do not hear back from the company in one week, call and ask to speak either to personnel or to the store manager. Tell them very politely who you are and why you are calling. The nicer you are and the moreyou look like others that allready work there the better.

If you do get an interview, make sure you show up a few minutes early. Know some stuff about the company and know why you want to work there. Not because you need the money or “you think it would be neat”. give a real reason, such as working at Starbucks because they do things to help the community, such as giving away used grounds and giving day old pastries to the homeless shelters. Investigate the company you are interviewing for and have some interesting information for the interview.

Make sure you stand out for positive reasons, not negative.

If you are applying for Petsmart, for example, you can talk about your experience with animals. Pets, shelter work, ect..

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How do I negotiate a retail sales account deal?

Here is a question posted on Yahoo answers together with the chosen best response.

“As a hobby I make handcrafted bath & body items for family & friends. Recently I was asked to supply a local retailer with a large volume of my products. I can supply the product, my question is how do I handle the sale? Should I sell the product at wholesale or should I sell the product at retail and offer some type of volume discounting? Like 5 or 10% off, also should I ask for a deposit, and if so how much, thanks.”

You should sell at wholesale prices. As the store will be selling a large volume of your goods and eliminates the selling aspect from your responsibility, they are entitled to a profit on the sale as well. Typically, a wholesale price would be 50% of the retail price, however the higher the volume, the lower the percentage as a general guideline. To begin the negotiations you will want to determine the quantity of goods they would like to purchase and the retail price they would be asking. Just keep in mind your production costs and ensure you are receiving a fair profit. Good luck!

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Up Selling or Thinking Big

My thoughts over the last few days have just reconfirmed a few things about making major sales. I have been looking at cars and speaking to a number of sales people involved in the vehicle sales profession.

Even though price selling may be easier and faster, you will be the loser because of under selling and more than likely earning less income.

Many customers like me have a strong reluctance to purchase poor quality, and some who do so will regret and quite often cancel later.

If you are involved in making major sales or in fact any kind of sales you make a grave error with either extreme.

A: Concentrating your sales effort on quick selling only.


B: Overselling or forcing your customer too hard.

You must determine your customer needs, I do not know how many times this week I have given car sales people a brief on what I was looking for. Price was NOT the motivating factor in my case, yet this brief went over most heads. In nearly every case they tried to sell me something I had no interest in.

There are two reasons for selling a better or upmarket product. The obvious one is too increase your earnings or profitability, and the second is to serve your customer better. A customer frequently will make a buying decision on price alone, unaware that a far better product or service, more keeping with his or her needs, would cost comparatively little more.

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