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Thread: An open letter to other retail stores

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Alexandria VA
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    13,309

    Default An open letter to other retail stores

    Dear Fellow Store Owner,

    Stop complaining about how bad sales are and look at how you can keep your customers.

    Did you know that most folks would rather buy locally than long-distance? Its true....while many people shop on-line and get their information off the web, when it comes right down to it, they would PREFER to buy locally. But you alienate your customers because you are clinging to a pricing structure from the go-go early 90's, when margins were high and consumers spent freely. That ship has sailed, and isn't coming back.

    In 2010, everyone knows how to search Google and find a place like this forum, and with a few more mouse clicks they get a price from a store like me and ..... !WOW! They discover your prices are much higher. So what do you do? You make a photocopy of the quote and then get on the phone to the manufacturers and complain about 'that guy on the internet' who is stealing your business.

    Here's an idea. Rather than whining and reaching for the phone, evaluate your price structure and realize that even if 'that guy' goes away, another ten will be there to sell at the same price point and fill in the void. A savvy consumer will always price shop a large purchase, and base their decision not only on price, but on service level, knowledge of the staff, and confidence that any issues will be solved. Get your staff up to speed and educated, realize that you can live on less margin if you pick it up in volume, and don't play games with the silly "On Sale" pricing all the time when in fact your 'sale' price is nothing more than your too-high everyday selling retail.

    Your customers are walking out the door from a combination that high pricing and lack of knowledgeable sales staff. They find a place like my store either in the flesh or on the web, where I have the knowledge AND the aggressive pricing structure and now you've just lost the sale - and rightfully so. You didn't earn their business. Today's shopper demands more than just a bright red sale sign and putting a catalog in their lap, and if you're too high on price by a thousand dollars on a sofa, they're not coming back.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum
    I ask that you do NOT call my store with general furniture questions, that is what the forum is for

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    34

    Default Re: An open letter to other retail stores

    So true Duane! Don't forget to add the ridiculous shipping charges that many of these stores charge, for a short distance because it is always "at least" a certain amount no matter how close or far!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    675

    Default Re: An open letter to other retail stores

    I can make no sense out of shipping charges - I suspect that with some retailers they either have completely boneheaded practices (e.g., insisting that manufacturers who will drop ship deliver to their warehouse, even if they're going to contract with a third party for delivery) or that they price shipping based upon weight even if they don't actually incur a shipping charge. I was looking at play structures recently and, even though everybody offers curbside delivery, shipping charges on a 2,000 pound delivery ranged from $0 to $850 - and yes, the manufacturer both drop ships and builds the shipping cost into its wholesale price.

    I very much appreciate showrooms, and the expertise of salespersons who can explain options, alternatives, help you put together something that is customized or pick an appropriate special order item. They add value. I agree with Duane's reaction to customers who pick their brains then walk away, using their 'free' expertise to buy the same item for less from a different vendor.

    I do understand an upcharge for a furniture store that accepts delivery, uncrates the item, inspects it, cleans it up or, if damaged, has it replaced, then delivers it to a room in your house. That's adding value - even more if they also provide replacement of defective units or quality service if problems arise. I don't understand why local companies that do nothing more than place an order for a stock item that is either drop shipped to your house with no further participation by them, or is shipped to their showroom (even though it could be delivered to your home at the same cost) from where you either pay a local delivery fee or have to pick it up yourself, believe they should be able to charge hundreds of dollars more than Internet vendors. With all due respect to their desired margins, I am skeptical that in today's consumer market their actions improve their profits. Yes, I'll pay a premium for the benefits of working with a local merchant, but I don't see why a consumer item (such as a BBQ) that you must uncrate and assemble yourself, and has a notice in huge letters "DO NOT RETURN THIS ITEM TO THE STORE WHERE YOU BOUGHT IT", should cost 50% more from a local store than an online retailer.

    We have a local appliance store that, not so many years ago, distinguished itself by having a sales staff with deep knowledge about their products. The Internet had an unfortunate effect on their camera counter, where the staff was once amazingly informative about film cameras, gradually evolving into being helpful and informed about their array of mostly digital cameras, to becoming less informed about their products and what they have in stock than their typical customer. I don't know that local merchants can effectively compete with online vendors and big box stores for consumer electronics. Their appliance sales staff is better, but last time I was there they were more interested in chatting with each other than even giving me a perfunctory, "Can I help you find something." No sale.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Atlanta
    Posts
    115

    Default Re: An open letter to other retail stores

    Add in mistrust on the part of consumers too. So many of the furniture salespeople I've encountered are unwilling to be honest about their product.

    If the furniture comes from China, say so. Don't act like you don't know or offer a song-and-dance about how old a furniture maker is and tell me where the company's headquarters is located.

    Don't tell me you don't know how its made either or tell me 'feel the grain' as evidence of "solid wood". Maybe all those tricks would work in the past but just as consumers can price shop on the internet, they can get an education there as well.

    I might buy a piece of furniture that isn't everything I wanted if I mostly like it and feel like the salesperson has honestly represented it but I will never buy anything from them if I feel they are lying to me.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    79

    Default Re: An open letter to other retail stores

    Most sales persons think that the consumer is just plain old stupid and I resent being treated this way. Others have not been educated on any of the products they carry, or so it seems.

    I compare prices on everything from a blender to a new Car. I can honestly tell you that I have seen H&M chairs selling for $5000 and up in SF stores. The times of easy money are over and have been for a while. Most of those stores have few customers with deep pockets.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Alexandria VA
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    13,309

    Default Re: An open letter to other retail stores

    At the salesperson level, there is just no way you can have in-depth knowledge of a product line unless you have a passion for it. The manufacturer's only supply so much information, and after that you have to scratch and dig it out. That means asking questions and finding answers, going to the workshops to see how things are actually made at a facility, and unpacking and handling the product. In fairness to most store salespeople, how many do that?

    I'm pretty knowledgeable on the Hancock and Moore brand, for example. How so? Well, I would say it breaks down like this:

    20% from Catalog / Price Book and Website information

    30% from calling them and asking them more questions than any other dealer (so I'm told -not sure if that's a positive or a negative!)

    20% from unpacking and handling the product personally

    20% from going to Market and to the Factory to observe production.

    10% from experience and a natural curiosity of things.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum
    I ask that you do NOT call my store with general furniture questions, that is what the forum is for

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Little Rock, Arkansas
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: An open letter to other retail stores

    With all the competition on the internet, retail stores are struggling, of course great customer service is the best way to retain customers who (hopefully) offer word of mouth recommendations to their family, friends and co-workers.

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