Retail Observer

September 2019

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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Page 49 of 67

RETAILOBSERVER.COM SEPTEMBER 2019 50 A s specialty retailers fight for survival in an online world, many are turning to an old strategy: reducing expenditures on employees. Over the past decade, U.S. department stores have seen a 10 percent reduction in per-store headcount, and training budgets have been reduced as well. Let me just say this: understaffed stores and untrained salespeople have never been a good idea. Following that strategy means that you're sidelining the biggest single advantage you have over the e-tailers: a knowledgeable person that a customer can talk to and make informed purchases. The worst situation for a specialty retailer is to have customers walk out because they simply couldn't find a salesperson to help them. Another key issue is the quality of your salespeople. An untrained salesperson is worse than having no one available to help your customers. Not only do you need to provide product training, you really need to invest in sales training as well. All the knowledge in the world won't help if you aren't trained to qualify the customer and ask for the sale. Obviously, training costs time and money. For product training, look to your vendors for support. When our buying group interviews prospective vendors, one of the first things we ask is what education and training programs they will offer to our members. There are a host of companies you can turn to for sales training. Remember, sales training is about learning to ask the right questions, and how to steer the customer to the right product that will match his or her needs and budget. It's a skill that has to be learned, but I guarantee that your sales training investment will pay off. Improving your salespeople's closing rates brings spreading benefits. More sales equal more turns on inventory, and more turns on inventory will help you negotiate better deals and terms with your vendors. Also, more sales means more positive word- of-mouth and exposure on social media. Understaffing and undertraining have never worked for specialty retailers – they just sideline your Number One asset. Budget for the right level of staffing, and make sure your staff are the best trained and most knowledgeable in your area. The combination will pay lasting dividends. Dave Workman Consumer Electronic Trends Dave Workman is CEO/President of ProSource, a cooperative, member-governed, not-for-profit buying group representing more than 550 tech retailers and custom integrators. With annual sales of more than $5 billion, ProSource is the largest specialty consumer electronics merchandising group in the U.S. For more information visit RO DON'T SIDELINE YOUR NUMBER ONE ASSET

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