Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why Some Retailers SUCK and others ROCK

In the current economic climate, one would think that a retailer would go to great lengths to consummate a transaction. Here's a story of one retailer who avoided (lost) a sale and one who perfected the sale:

Two days ago, I entered a PUMA store with the sole purpose of purchasing a digital watch for my wife. Within seconds, I found my "one-of-a-kind" in a trendy, pink design that was clearly more form than function. The price tag? A mere $80 - an insignificant amount in the watch world, but in the retail world (and to a company who needs to sell watches, shoes, t-shirts, hats and sunglasses) a healthy transaction that took less than 3 minutes to complete. BUT, as I inspected the watch up close at the checkout, it occurred to me that the digital numbers were nearly impossible to view. The illumination was almost non-existent. The "salesperson" quipped by disclosing that he had never sold a watch at PUMA and that all of these other watches in the case looked the same. He even suggested that I take my newly purchased watch to a jeweler for a new battery as most of the watches in the display had been there for as long as he could remember.

I left the store thinking that with my technical prowess, I could easily troubleshoot the illumination problem and present my wife with her new Thanksgiving present.

Not the case.

Frustrated, I ventured back to PUMA the following day determined to leave with a functional watch. I was delighted to find a new "salesperson" behind the checkout desk; someone who was sure to know more about the pink PUMA watch. Nope. Amazingly, I was given the same suggestion of replacing the battery on a brand-new watch. For a brief moment, my mind went adrift as I gave thought to how I would handle such a situation in my business. No doubt, I would have taken the watch to the jeweler literally NEXT DOOR, paid $3 for a replacement battery, a presented the customer with a fully functional pink watch 5 minutes later.

So, I left with no watch and PUMA lost (blew) an easy $80 sale.

Not all retailers blow the sale. Some even take their customer to unimaginable levels. Here's the story of a small retailer who went the extra mile. Make that 30 miles:

My mom, Kathy, and my brother, Adam, a learning disabled adult, recently went clothes shopping in Columbus, Ohio (Short North district). They were specifically looking for dress suits as Adam wears a suit and tie to work (like me!). They discovered a fashionable boutique on High Street offering Ben Sherman designs and quickly found their one-of-a-kind. Unfortunately, this clothier's tailor had recently quit leaving no qualified replacement at the store. Because my brother doesn't drive and he lives on the other side of town, coming back to the store when a qualified tailor was re-hired wasn't a practical alternative. So, the deal was done. No suit.

But this local boutique owner wouldn't give up. What happened next is pretty special.

A few days passed and the boutique owner called my mom to inform her that he had just taken a class on how to properly fit and pin a suit for alteration. He asked for a chance to custom-fit my brother for a new suit. Coincidentally, my brother was at my parent's house nearby (and not on the other side of town) recovering from H1N1. 30 minutes later, they were back in the boutique and in the dressing room. So pleased with the service they were, they decided to purchase not one Ben Sherman suit, but two.

A week had passed while the suits were being altered and the boutique owner called my mom. "Your suits are ready," he said. "I would like to personally deliver them to Adam (on the other side of town) if that's okay."

Do you think this boutique owner has a happy customer? Absolutely. Do you think PUMA can say the same?

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