It is with sorrow and heavy heart that today we must say goodbye to our dear friend, “Sell What’s Available Today”, affectionately known to most of us as just good ole S.W.A.T. A motivator, a constant and familiar backroom or sales floor battle cry from our various higher level supervisors. Once we went back to face our customers with a different product in hand, “S.W.A.T. my child, go forth and S.W.A.T!” Now with heavy heart today I am here to announce the burial of S.W.A.T. let us take a moment and get the fuck over it.
If you are in a company that does not utilize it’s web presence as a tool (or extended stockroom) for your brick and mortar front, then you must forget all the wonderful moments you had with being able to sell what is available today because you are fooling yourself to think that the two should be partnered together in money making, loyal customer creating bliss!
Instant satisfaction for all of our customers, that still walk through our doors, is now at their finger tips. One click, one swipe, one virtual conversation with an app ” hey where can I find blah blah blah in white within walking distance?” Then have it dropped on my doorstep before I get home… and just like that they walk out the door. The modern consumer doesn’t have time for “oh but wait I don’t have that but how about this instead?” (That will be the focus of Allocation by location)
What we want can be found, and it can be found down to the most specific and custom minutest of details now. Our individual styles, and hottest trends are on our phones now. So ask yourself is it economical, smart, practical or just enough anymore to bring multiple items? Fuck no!
When a customer comes in looking for something that you make that they want, then most of the time they will walk out if you don’t have it… yell at someone in logistics for that missed conversion. Most of us on the front lines care, but we don’t think you care about the business with what you say sitting behind your desk, if you are not listening to us or any front line employees, or customers just because your ego and MBA are in your way then you are shuttering your doors at record pace. I dare you to show them 4 or 5 items, make them wait while you navigate an antiquated stockroom layout (we’ll also hit that one later) if it isn’t what they want… they do not have to settle anymore! You just spent time and money to pull 600 units and restock 600 units and the customer went down the hall or onto their phone and bought what they wanted in the first place.
What can we do about it? We adapt! We engage differently and we bring back real service! You have educate and create retail theater, it has all come back to the show! He’ll look at Tesla in any mall or Microsoft!
Sure keep doing visual changes and trying to invent the next big trend, you will sell some out the door, but if you can finally marry your web presence to your brick and mortar, and create an engaging showroom positive environment then you will be beyond successful! Our staffs must be trained in real service and be knowledgeable of what we provide not just sell. Stop with the crazy store hours and over working managers and associates by every other day having a quick old time fix gimmick, sale set up every five days (if you’re lucky not every 2 days) and let us engage, educate and get to know our customers!
In today’s new retail 101 world we should know what we are good at and do it! Sorry, but it is that simple! It will take many more closings, many more retail apocalypse articles. It will take time, it will take eliminating the people that think pencil whipping a report is making a difference, and it will take work hard work and product and selling education . A quote I have used for over 20 years to every one of the hundreds of employees and coworkers I have had is “It’s called WORK, not DONE, so get to Work!”
Control what you can control, be the best at what you are and let that be your brand statement!
When I was a teenager I had the great opportunity of being trained directly, side by side, literally working with two brothers (from a family of 5) they taught me more then I can ever thank them for about putting in effort, not just doing the job but creating the atmosphere, customer engagement, and making every customer feel important and part of the show! If you make the best burger on the planet, don’t start making subs just because you want to beat someone out of that game, keep doing what you are great at and build on it, you’ll become number 1 in the US, they did.
My point is that this whole retail apocalypse is an opportunity to reinvigorate a tired old system of supply and demand, and fake customer service. Make your store a show room, show your customers on big screen tvs and the latest and greatest technology your huge stockroom online, that extends beyond your doors and into cyberspace (and doesn’t compete with your physical store but enhances the experience). It is up to us as real leaders now to learn, adapt, stay positive, stay focused, and not be afraid of change! If history has taught us anything, be it globally or personally it is that from destruction comes rebirth, from chaos comes peace. It just takes perseverance,unity and creating a Positive, Personal, Professional and Profitable customer experience!