My mom used to tell me that “back in her day” when she went shopping in a department store, the sales clerks brought you your clothes to try on in the dressing room, and if you needed a different size or color, you just told them and they would go get it. She felt this was a great service, and she noted that it also kept people from stealing clothes. And it clearly it keeps people in the store to allow them to buy, rather than having them leave.
I was reading an article in Fortune magazine “Fit for the Future” about how Bloomingdale’s was going to test “smart” fitting rooms. The purpose of these rooms is to mitigate a “common problem that has cost apparel retailers dearly in sales: frustrated customers who give up and leave rather than take the time to acquire the right piece of clothing.”
Using an iPad, the customer can scan the item they have found that may not be quite right and find out if they have it in stock in the desired size or color. The system also suggests items that might compliment the selected item (wow I think they call that cross-selling).
It is stunning to me (and to my mother as well) how little added value service one gets from a supposed high-end retailer compared to the “value priced” retailers. Why then is anyone surprised that department stores are failing. I guess it’s just easier to blame it on Amazon.
Sales people exist for a simple reason: to help your customer buy. Why would you eliminate sales people, unless they aren’t able to do that? And if they aren’t is it that you are hiring under-skilled, under-paid sales people and then don’t like the results? Or perhaps there is no selling opportunity: clearly not true in this case.
I think Strother Martin summed it up best in Cool Hand Luke: “Morons, I’ve got morons on my team.”