Suggestions From A Retailer

What can I do….????

Many of you can identify with me when I speak of yet another shopping trip gone bad, unable to find anything that fits or looks good on a person of my size. Who hasn’t had one of these agonizing trips? What’s a person to do? Complain to the clerk? The manager? The home office? What can I do to make a difference?
I have worked within the retail business for many years and would like to offer some suggestions to help mobilize the many people who feel as I do. Together we can get the attention of the retailers. After all, we have a lot of net income at our disposal. It’s not only the slim and shapely that have money to spend!

Here are my recommendations:

1. Talk to the Clerks

The best retailers truly do care what their customers want and are pretty good at mining this information from their front line associates. If you cannot find the right size or appropriate styling, the key is to take the time to engage a sales clerk on every visit. Make sure the clerk understands what you are looking for. This type of communication with a clerk can have an amazing effect over time. I can assure you that better retailers truly want this information and will use it to plan future merchandise buys. However, in order for your needs and desires to be effectively communicated, a qualitative and quantitative element must be included. Therefore, be specific, “Do you carry size XXX?” I really want something other than black in a dress. Don’t you have any other styles/colours? The key here is that the clerk must hear the message over and over again. If they do, I can assure you that the information will be moved up within the organization to their manager and others, until it reaches a decision maker. In the store in which I worked, there was a form we could fill in at the cash register that collected this type of information. The department manager sent it to the home office once a month. The customers desires were communicated to higher levels!

2. Talk to the Store Manager

Please note that I did NOT say, yell/threaten to boycott/abuse the store manager; just talk to them in a polite manner. Most of the managers I have worked with were people who really were interested in customer satisfaction. There is no desire to make life difficult for large, tiny, tall or very short people. However, since the majority rules in business, it is their perception that bigger/smaller or longer/shorter goods just would not sell enough to warrant the space and inventory investment. What we need to do is help them change their mind. Explain that many people you know need larger sizes. Perhaps you can even make a personal case for how much you spend, and how much you would like to spend it at his/her store. Managers are interested in selling more, and if they can see the benefit of changing their merchandise line, they will be more likely to do so. In summary, ask to see the store manager, outline your case and communicate it in a pleasant but meaningful way.

3. Write to the home office

Most of the stores in malls are part of a larger group of stores. The store managers do have an influence over the products carried in their stores but for the most part, they do not actually make the decisions as to what is sent to each store nor do they deal with the suppliers. The key here is to get to the decision makers. You can likely get this information from the local store where the manager will most certainly have it. Engage the store manager in a conversation and ask if he/she has the name of the buyer for that specific line of goods. And then write! Outline your concerns directly to the buyer and, as stated above, be sure to add clout to what you say by communicating what is in it for them. Do some research. This website and many others carry information about the spending habits of ‘larger America’ and the current demographics. Don’t be afraid to quote the statistics which prove the point that there are more larger customers than ever before and that they represent a huge (no pun intended) customer base.

So, is there anything you can do? You bet there is. Talk, communicate, and don’t be afraid to get your point across. And then spend your money with the retailer who responds! That’s the most effective way to ensure further improvement in the choices available in retail stores.   Good luck and have fun!     

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