Handle with Care

For me, like many others, shopping is not only necessary, it is also therapeutic and recreational.  The stores where I like to shop are varied, both high end luxury retailers, mass markets stores such as Target and discount stores (TJ Maxx and Marshalls) or factory outlets.

Regardless of where I shop or how much or little I spend, each purchase is important to me.  If it weren’t, I wouldn’t have invested the time, energy and of course – money – to make the purchase.  That means I expect you to take the few seconds to neatly fold soft purchases (clothing), wrap fragile items and bag it all carefully.

From one retailer to another – PLEASE, today, take the time and impart that bit of wisdom to your staff.

On a recent visit to the Seattle Premium Outlets my experiences ran the gamut of   exceptional (Nautica and Kate Spade) to horrible(Banana Republic).  Repeatedly throughout the day I said to cashiers “Here, why don’t you let me fold that so I don’t have to iron it or send it to the cleaners for pressing when I get it home.”   Some had the good sense to thank me for doing their job for them – others remained clueless.

A bargain is no longer a bargain if I have to invest time or money to be able to use it once I get it home.   These experiences cause customers to shop elsewhere.  Next thing you know, enough people go elsewhere and stores close – people lose jobs.  

Most of the cashiers looked surprised, some even seemed annoyed.  No one had ever told them to neatly fold items, had not showed them how to fold at the counter and certainly had never explained why they should.  

I find this shocking in factory outlet stores where a large percentage of their inventory is neatly folded and in stacks on display tables.  How can you possess the skill (or the folding board) on the sales floor but not at the counter?

Is it not just as important – perhaps even more important long term – how I feel about the purchase (and your store) once I get it home as it does when I’m browsing?  When I pull out an item to show a friend or spouse my “find” and it’s been wadded up and thrown carelessly in a bag, it no longer has the “wow” factor it had when I selected it.  Now that makes me – and everyone I show it to – doubt my decision making ability.

Understanding the psychology of shopping – and imparting a little of that to your floor and counter staff – can go a long way towards saving the brick and mortar stores.  With such haphazard service, is it any wonder Amazon is an increasing threat to retailers everywhere?

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