Am I just full of it, or is this important?

Maybe I am just full of it... but I wrote this in 2010 - and saw it again recently. I think it deserves another run... even if I say so myself:


The Pocket Principle

Some things just happen.

Pockets for instance. Let’s take the kind I am most familiar with: men’s pants pockets.

Are your pockets too short?

If you do stick your hand in your pocket, chances are that you will find that it is just right. Not too shallow, not too deep. Not too tight – just right.

Who decided what pockets should look like? Who dictated where they should go? Who decides the depth, the angle, the size?

A designer did of course, but what set if rules did they follow? Who dictated that they should be just so?

No one. Everyone.

Just the momentum really. A bit of logic, maybe – they should be where your hands can reasch them. But we don’t give it too much thought, and even designers probably don’t think too much about where the suit’s pockets go. They go where they always have. In the same size. The same depth.

The collective wisdom of the ages.

You don’t notice or think about your pockets.

Until they are wrong.

If you suddenly can’t reach the coins in the bottom, or they are too shallow and everything falls out, or too small. Then you notice.

And in a retail store there are many pockets.

Little pockets of customer interaction that you never notice. Like where your counter is located, forcing the queuing customers and the entering customers to cross over. Merchandise that is too high, or too heavy. Things that are not priced.

How did that happen? Is that just the way it always has been? Are you really aware of your pockets or, if you are honest, do you not really notice them?

When a customer has to ask you where something is in the store; that is a pocket of failure. You can call the customer stupid or lazy or blind, or you can put your hand in your pocket and figure out if the customer experience really can’t be better.

Great brand experiences don’t happen by accident, they happen by design. How much time did you spend designing the customer experience?

Unlike pockets, customer experiences can be ‘wrong’ and you may never notice. Unless you consciously go about designing the right customer experience.

Because, believe me, the customer notices.

On NOT understanding people

I have been blogging 8 years. You'd think I know what is popular and what will get people clicking and talking. And you'd be right in a small way, because I know a little, and this is what I know:

My most popular post of all time is THIS one. The amount of original writing is limited. The insights are arbitrary and, dare I say it, relatively shallow and somewhat cliched. But it has a killer headline that seduces people to click.

My next best post (on LinkedIn) is THIS one. It has a quarter of the views, but 10 X the number of thumbs up! It is certainly a much better post than the previous one, but it is not particularly deep - and if you read it you will immediately grasp the obvious lesson/message it contains.

THIS post is much better than any of the above. It is actually useful and contains a powerful, 
foundational insight that can be translated (and used) into any business challenge. It has below average views, and 2 likes.

Watch and observe the follow of 'updates' on social media platforms. Whether it is Twitter or LinkedIn or whatever, the most popular posts are:

  • An image - with a (unoriginal) quote
  • A recipe that promises a quick solution in X number of steps
  • A wild promise to make someone better at (leadership, personal branding, productivity - fill in the blank)
  • A shortcut to achieving some type of superficial success (be more popular, get more followers, etc)

From what I have learned about people's online behaviours, I can say this quite unequivocally:

  • People don't really want to learn, they want a shortcut.
  • People don't want to think, they want to be reminded of what they know.
  • People don't' want to work at figuring something out, wrestle with an application - but want it given to them.
  • People don't actually grow their own purpose through self-reflection, they want to follow the crowd.
  • People invariably mistake the obvious for the truth.
  • Almost everybody reading this will think the above don't apply to them.

OUR GRAND ERROR OF JUDGMENT:
Words of Wisdom are seen as wise if everyone else previously agreed that those words are wise. Business advice is taken from people who are perceived to have been successful.

The TRUTH is that words of advice may be true or untrue irrespective of the past record of the person speaking them. The truth is the truth, no matter where it comes from. Someone who has spoken a past truth does not necessarily have a monopoly on the truth; it can come from anywhere - even from a child.

Taking advice from someone who has succeeded in business (or anything) is actually rationally not the smartest thing that you can do. They may have tried once or twice and succeeded wildly and admirably. Good for them. But that means they have not gone to school on that particular challenge.

Here is the thing though:

  • Because they have succeeded at one thing does not mean they will succeed again.
  • Because they have succeeded in their way, does not mean it is relevant to your situation.
  • Because they have succeed, does not mean they understand why they succeeded because they may actually not have the self-awareness or the understanding of the true factors of success.
  • Because they succeeded, they don't know what causes failures.
If ANYONE had the real secret or recipe, we would have no more failures. Polio may have been eradicated, but failure hasn't; because there is no antidote to failure.

If you want to take advice from someone, don't take it from someone who ONCE hit a hole-in-one; take it from a PRO who may have NEVER hit a hole-in-one, but can land the ball within a few feet from the hole every time.

This extract from our (approximately) fortnightly newsletter. Do you get it?


Brand (Non)Sense - Read the signs

Have you read the signs?

An acquaintance is considering abandoning the franchise agreement for their coffee shop. There are pros and cons both ways, but the biggest risk they face what will happen when they take the sign down.

I have suggested this risk to them as nicely as I can. But I am not sure they are listening. They currently benefit from a brand. They argue they are being harmed by it. Either way, the BRAND is exerting an influence on the business.

What they don’t seem to grasp is that simply replacing one bulkhead sign for another does not create a new brand. There is a long list of things that ‘signify’ the brand – things they (as long-term franchisees) are taking for granted.

They may be justified in wanting to ditch their franchisor, but I am not sure they understand the consequences (and the requirements) of creating a new brand fully.

Retailers sometimes think branding is what marketers do. Small business thinks branding is what big business does. Big business thinks ‘branding’ is what advertising agencies do for them. None of the above are true.

I blame marketing practitioners for the fact that most business people don’t appreciate the importance of brands. Proctor and Gamble were/are lauded for being the pre-eminent exponents of brand management, but making ‘brand’ the responsibility of one person did branding a great disservice.

The definition of ‘branding’ doesn’t really illuminate the subject:

Old English brand, brond "fire, flame; firebrand, piece of burning wood, torch," and (poetic) "sword," from Proto-Germanic *brandaz (cognates: Old Norse brandr, Old High German brant, Old Frisian brond "firebrand, blade of a sword," German brand "fire"), from root *bran-/*bren- (see burn (v.)). Meaning "identifying mark made by a hot iron" (1550s) broadened by 1827 to "a particular make of goods." Brand name is from 1922.

Whilst the origin of the word ‘branding’ may have much in common with the practice of farmers slapping a hot iron on the arse of a cow, and it was used to signify ownership; the modern practice of ‘branding’ as a dark art of marketing is quite different. The brand symbol (a logo) is but one element in the arsenal of the professional brand manager.

Branding is actually semiotic craft.

Semiotics is commonly defined as the study of signs, symbols, and signification. Signifiers are any material things that signify, e.g., words on a page, facial expressions or images.

Despite the fact that I say you can’t outsource the responsibility for branding to an ad agency, you can’t really build a brand effectively with the assistance of your second cousin twice removed and an aunt who dabbles in drawing. You may be able to buy a logo for $99 online, but you can’t build a brand that way. There is a time and place for professionals to be involved.

CASE STUDY #1

The following two advertisements were analysed by Emma Henderson (researcher), whom I will rely on to make the case.

Both of the following advertisements are for Ralph Lauren Romance.  Figure 1 is for the women's fragrance and Figure 2 is for the men’s fragrance. 

The ads signify DIFFERENT things to their male and female audiences.




BUT – and this is the power of advertising that is done ‘on brand’, these two ads also clearly share the Ralph Lauren brand heritage.

The ads signify the SAME things to their male and female audiences.

  • Both advertisements show a male and a female  (ROMANCE  is a two-way street)
  • Both advertisements are in black white, but as one compares both one can notice that the male advertisement has much darker tones.
  • Both models have the ‘perfect’ figure, which signifies health and beauty.  The male is perfectly toned whilst the female is very slim and attractive; her hair is flowing to signify femininity. 
  • The visual codes within the advertisements signify gender; in both advertisements the male takes on the active role

I am pretty confident that few people would have looked at those two pictures and entertain the notion of ‘syntagmatic patterns’.

That is kinda the point: Good brand design is invisible.

But semiotics can be and is much bigger than studying ‘signs’. And semiotics is not an esoteric art practised by hipster-designers in Paddington or Chapel Street.

Most designers will do what designers do and focus on the symbols, but if you think about the definition carefully, retail is awash with signs – more than just ‘signage’ – there are many other signifiers.

Have you thought about these signifiers in your store?

  • The way a diner puts the cutlery on the plate
  • The way a customer looks (signals) for assistance
  • The message on your carry bag
  • The height of the hook, the size of the mirror and the absence/ presence/ style/ comfort/ colour of a chair in the change room
  • The smile on a sales associate’s face (and the colour of the lipstick)
  • The volume of the music (and the name of the band)
  • The pile  in the carpet
  • The sign above the cash register about shoplifting
  • The font size of your tickets

EVERYTHING signifies something.

Ten of the basic lessons of brand management I have learned in the school of life are:

  1. Creating and maintaining a brand cannot be simply outsourced to an agency.
  2. There is more to the brand than the logo and a sign above the door.
  3. It takes a long time to create a brand.
  4. You only get one chance to create a brand (because they are built on impressions).
  5. It is cheaper to create a new brand than to ‘re-position’ one that you have screwed up.
  6. You may own the logo, but you don’t own the brand since it is what people think about you
  7. What people think about you is an accumulation of all those little things (signifiers) you say and do and don’t say and don’t do.
  8. You build a brand by living it, not advertising it.
  9. You are always building or destroying your brand by the things you say and do.
  10. Whether you do it by design or by accident, BRAND happens.

CONCLUSION

The challenge is to think about these things consciously, and to manage it proactively.

The list of signifiers (including the long list I did not write down) can equally be seen as brand touch points. To build a successful brand requires the brand owner to do two things:

  • Create a brand idea and express it across ALL the signifiers
  • Maintain that idea consistently in the face of constant change and the human propensity to lose interest

Step one takes creativity and step two takes discipline; both of which are in scarce supply.

Dennis

GANADOR: Strategies, Systems & Solutions to make Retail People Perform.

 

 

Invisible Retailing

 

When people buy a product or a service, they do not only pay with money, they pay with many ‘invisible dollars’:

·        They invest their very precious time

·        They risk their reputation

·        The opportunity cost of not pursuing a different product/outcome

Forgetting these invisible payments can cost us dearly.

Similarly, the retailer pays with those same invisible dollars (i.e. indirect costs) for the products.

·        We don’t factor the opportunity cost of the working capital,

·        We don’t price risk of obsolescence and damage into our cost of sales.

Forgetting these ‘invisible costs’ can cost us dearly

 

The past, present and future of customer service

In the past, customer service was seen as being ‘friendly’. The smile and the greeting were the manifestation of great customer service.

Today, we recognise that courtesy is a part of customer service, but just the first (albeit necessary) part. Convenience, accessibility, being in stock, offering warranties and so forth all add up to the customer experience.

The future of customer service is seen as the ability to seamlessly integrate online and offline ‘experience’.

None of these views are correct.

Most businesses cannot quantify the directly influence of customer service on their bottom line and many business seem infused with a doom about customer service. There is an almost fatalistic acceptance that customers will go on line looking for bargains.

But not all retailers are that fatalistic and there are some success stories.

Office Depot’s president could not understand why all their stores get outstanding customer service ratings done by a third party (we want that!) BUT their sales were declining faster than their competitors. He knew they were not in control of the economy, they only think he could control is what was going on in their store, why are the customers not buying from them. Lots of customers walk into the store, but they come out empty handed. How did he get customers to buy again from his stores?

 “You can say what you want about who you (think you) are, but people believe what they experience”. Jack Mackey, Vice president, services Management Group

Bain and Company after they have surveyed 362 companies and found that:

  • That only 8 percent of customer surveyed describe their experience as superior.
  • Yet 80% of the companies surveyed believe that the service they provided was indeed superior.

Do you understand that what your brand stands for, what is written in your vision statement, what is on the back of your card or on your website is of no value, if the customer believe that you are not what you say you are, due to previous experiences, then that is their reality. This is the most difficult and the easiest obstacle to overcome.

We are living in the world according to the customer.

Dijuilius (author of What’s the Secret) hears it everyday and it is the same thing over and over again. This is true to what I have experienced.

  • Our business is unique (BUT you are selling to people, does not matter what business you are in.)
  •  It is hard to find employees, let alone employees who care about service. (BUT - my challenge to you is: do they want to work for you and in your business?)
  • We cannot afford to pay enough to get quality people. (BUT this is easy to fix-change your payment and reward system.)
  • The younger generation does not care. (BUT - they do not know how they need to care for your customers, because you do not really know anymore.)
  • We have a total different customer shopping with us, it is much more difficult today to understand them. (BUT - they are all people and people want to be treated with respect, friendliness and want hassle free service.)
  • We are understaffed. (BUT you can get more staff, train them to be productive make more money and then incentivise them.

We are battling to solve the H Factor.

The owner of Chick-fil-A understands the H-factor, they live the H-factor and it is part of their DNA. They are not company centric focussed, they focus on their customers. They employ the right people, they create a dynamic and expiring environment to work in, they are trained and it is more difficult to be a Chick-fil-A franchisee than to get into the CIA Cathy the owner likes to joke.

"If we have to keep telling people what to do, it means we're not modelling the behaviour ourselves," says Cathy. "If we're living it every day, we don't need to talk about it."

If we are willing to listen, learn and change then customer service does not need to be such a conundrum. There STILL is only two parts to the equation: Figure out what the customers want, and figure out how to deliver that to them.

1. Know and understand your customer’s reality.

(c) 2014 Ganador

(c) 2014 Ganador

2. People (trained staff) is your bridge to your customers

This from Tom Peters’ presentation in Johannesburg.

You staff are your best spies to find out what the secret is.

  • Talk to staff and ask about customer behaviours and desires, they know it. The thing is you have never asked them.
  • Forecast what can go wrong at any given moment of truth and put strategies in place to ensure a golden moment of truth for your customers. Might be a golden moment but it will be a moment.
  • Stew Leonard once said that you will never need a consultant, all that you have to do is talk to your customers, have a conversation ask what they would like to have and then if possible fix it or implement it. Customers get married in this store.
  • Have service recovery systems in place. “What if they bring the product back?”, “How do you handle complaints?

Don’t just ‘train’ your staff, allow them to train YOU. Involve them in designing the system of service, because they too are customers and they are the ones in direct, day contact with customers. Your job as owner/manager is NOT to come up with all the solutions, but rather to elicit the ideas, prioritise and resource the ones you want to implement.

SUMMARY

The RIGHT customer service is not how we did it in the past (a friendly smile), the present (a pleasant experience) or the future (seamless online/offline interaction).

The REAL FUTURE of customer service is all of the above; that is the real expectation of the customer.

This trend briefing by TrendWatch has several interesting case studies on customer service practices of the future being practised today.

 

Pricing: 1 principle, 2 misunderstandings and 1 very important lesson

The pricing of products plays an important role in the creating of an image of a business. The retailer can use different strategies to establish the prices of their products or services.  At a macro level, the retailer must select from one of these three generic strategies:

  • ABOVE the market
  • AT the market
  • BELOW the market

This is a ‘first principles’ decision and this decision will:

  1. Set the boundaries of your branding execution
  2. Inform your ranging and numerous supply chain decisions
  3. Frame your (visual) merchandising executions
  4. Define your target market
  5. Influence your strategic possibilities into the future

If your store/offer is positioned in the ‘value’ space and is strategically designed to compete on price. Low(est) prices in that case is consistent with the business and brand image.

There are two common misconceptions about quality.

The notion of ‘price’ is used by the customer as a heuristic (shortcut) for quality. Buyers generally see price on a sliding scale, like this:

Prices can really be ‘too good to be true’.

Pricing scale.PNG
Customers don’t buy on price, but on value.

Customers equate value and quality and perceptions are formed accordingly. Few people consistently buy the cheapest of everything; but rather want to spend the least amount of money for the acceptable level of quality.

Given the above, the lesson for all that discounting is a strategy of LAST resort, not first.

Discounting should only be used if you have failed to convince the customer of your value proposition. (Of course your competitors set the base line about value and it is not easy to sell the same thing at a higher price when it has become commoditised. The challenge is to find a differentiator customers are prepared to pay for.)

 

People don't really want to learn - instead they want this

I have been blogging 8 years. You'd think I know what is popular and what will get people clicking and talking. And you'd be right in a small way, because I know a little, and this is what I know:

My most popular post of all time is THIS one. The amount of original writing is limited. The insights are arbitrary and, dare I say it, relatively shallow and somewhat cliched. But it has a killer headline that seduces people to click.

My next best post (on LinkedIn) is THIS one. It has a quarter of the views, but 10 X the number of thumbs up! It is certainly a much better post than the previous one, but it is not particularly deep - and if you read it you will immediately grasp the obvious lesson/message it contains.

THIS post is much better than any of the above. It is actually useful and contains a powerful, foundational insight that can be translated (and used) into any business challenge. It has below average views, and 2 likes.

Add to the above the following observation:
Watch and observe the follow of 'updates' on social media platforms. Whether it is Twitter or LinkedIn or whatever, the most popular posts are:

  • An image - with a (unoriginal) quote
  • A recipe that promises a quick solution in X number of steps
  • A wild promise to make someone better at (leadership, personal branding, productivity - fill in the blank)
  • A shortcut to achieving some type of superficial success (be more popular, get more followers, etc)

From what I have learned about people's online behaviours, I can say this quite unequivocally:

  1. People don't really want to learn, they want a shortcut.
  2. People don't want to think, they want to be reminded of what they know.
  3. People don't' want to work at figuring something out, wrestle with an application - but want it given to them.
  4. People don't actually grow their own purpose through self-reflection, they want to follow the crowd.
  5. People invariably mistake the obvious for the truth.
  6. Almost everybody reading this will think the above don't apply to them.

OUR GRAND ERROR OF JUDGMENT:
Words of Wisdom are seen as wise if everyone else previously agreed that those words are wise. Business advice is taken from people who are perceived to have been successful.

The TRUTH is that words of advice may be true or untrue irrespective of the past record of the person speaking them. The truth is the truth, no matter where it comes from. Someone who has spoken a past truth does not necessarily have a monopoly on the truth; it can come from anywhere - even from a child.

Taking advice from someone who has succeeded in business (or anything) is actually rationally not the smartest thing that you can do. They may have tried once or twice and succeeded wildly and admirably. Good for them. But that means they have not gone to school on that particular challenge.

Here is the thing though:

  • Because they have succeeded at one thing does not mean they will succeed again.
  • Because they have succeeded in their way, does not mean it is relevant to your situation.
  • Because they have succeed, does not mean they understand why they succeeded because they may actually not have the self-awareness or the understanding of the true factors of success.
  • Because they succeeded, they don't know what causes failures.

If ANYONE had the real secret or recipe, we would have no more failures. Polio may have been eradicated, but failure hasn't; because there is no antidote to failure.
 

This post is an extract from our previous newsletter. Explore the archives and see if you would like to get it in future direct to your inbox.

93% of businesses abandon their original plan

IMAGE: 

IMAGE: 

I wrote in 2009 that: I DON’T BELIEVE IN BUSINESS PLANNING. That got quite a few comments, some in agreement and some not.

I was told by one commentator: If you plan and never do then fail is assured.

And another said: To succeed long term though, (…) require planning, unless the plan is to react in a status-quo knee-jerk manner.

To prove my point, I followed that post up by taking a dig at the inability of all the ‘business planners’ to see the GFC coming.

Well, it seems as if a Harvard Professor agrees.

Amar Bhidé researched and wrote The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses (Oxford University Press,) and found that 93 percent of all successful companies had to abandon their original business plan — because the original plan proved not to be viable

Roy Williams (Wizard of Ads) writes on Bide’s work and concludes:

Successful companies have an ability to improvise. Unsuccessful companies blindly "stick to the plan.

The principal difference between hope and a plan is presumption about the future.

The intended plan is deliberate.
The improvised plan is emergent.

Eric Barker describes the difference between ‘deliberate’ and ‘emergent’ as follows: 

"Deliberate is what’s in the business plan, the PowerPoint deck, the list of goals. And that’s what ends up changing 93% of the time. Emergent is what you find along the way. It’s when your baby nephew ignores the gift you bought him… but LOVES the shiny wrapping paper. The heart medication research… that ends up becoming Viagra."

I called the ‘emergent plan’ the business model – that is the FRAMEWORK that describes how you intend to produce money in your business. I have written many times that our ability to change is the core capability we must acquire.

And now the professor agrees. Read that opening line again: 93% of successful businesses abandon the original plan.

Despite the poor track record and low probability of success of a business plan, WHY do organisations, banks, consultants and the like STILL insist on business planning as some sort of panacea?

I think the world is catching on and moving on. In the current internet start-up culture we even have a word for it – you ‘PIVOT’ the business.

  • GROUPON started as ThePoint.com, a site launched in November 2007 that lets you start a campaign asking people to give money or do something as a group 
  • INSTAGRAM founders started a location-based service called Burbn, most comparable to Foursquare.
  • FLCKR started a ‘Game Neverending’, a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game
  • And FACEBOOK once was Facemash, a site comparable to HotOrNot.com, putting two pictures of people next to each other and asking the user to identify which one was 'hotter.'

There is a very long list, Google the topic if you are interested.

The first flaw of every plan is that it fails to appreciate that the future is not more of the past. And even if the planners can see that future clearly, it suffers from the second flaw of all business plans; that it reflects the prejudices, the fears and the internal politics of the people writing the plan.

The solution is to develop and/or understand your business model very clearly. Then construct a business system that will help you become antifragile (not merely resilient) so that you constantly adapt (and pivot) towards success.

What you need to know about pricing in retail (geeks only)

I don’t often do this, but this is the entire executive summary of a serious research paper on Pricing. The fact that I am doing this now, hopefully suggests that it is important.

Executive Summary by Ametoglu et al, 201o) on a paper titled:

Pricing Practices: Their Effects On Consumer Behaviour and Welfare.”

(Clicking on the link will download the PDF of the paper.)


The pricing practices discussed in this paper are highly prevalent in today’s society. While classical economic theory suggests that people will act rationally, using cost benefit analysis to make choices, scientific research shows that this is not the case. Humans do not have the capacity to recognise and evaluate all the available information in today’s complex environment, nor the time or motivation. Instead, people use mental short-cuts, or heuristics, to deal with this complexity.

Whilst heuristics can usefully guide our behaviour and allow humans to function in the world, they are not perfect calculations and are subject to occasional and sometimes costly mistakes. Importantly, heuristics leave people exposed to external influences, including pricing cues. The literature on pricing practices suggests that pricing cues provided by retailers can affect consumer behaviour and value perceptions.

Compared to presenting a total price partitioning prices into a base price and surcharge can significantly increase consumers’ positive evaluations and purchase intentions, and can lower search intentions. This is because consumers may fail to fully adjust from the initial (lower) price of the base good and therefore underestimate the total price of the product.

Evidence suggests that people tend to stick with the default option, even when this option has major, long-term consequences.

There is a large body of evidence to show that the presence of an advertised reference price increases consumers’ valuations of a deal and purchase intentions, and can lower their search intentions. Reference prices can have a significant impact even when these are disproportionally large and when consumers are sceptical of their truthfulness. The effects of reference prices are stronger when consumers are not readily able to compare them to an industry price, such as with unbranded, or retailers ‘own brand’ goods, and with less frequently purchased and more expensive items.

The available evidence on the effect of offering a “free” product in a bundle (e.g. 'buy one get one free') is mixed. While some studies show that this practice can increase consumer valuations and demand, others show that a freebie designation does not increase consumers’ perceptions or willingness to pay for the bundle.

One large scale study suggests that the bait-and-switch practice may have a substantial (negative) impact on consumers. Moreover, consumers are drawn in to promotions and where the item is out of stock, they predominantly switch to another item within the same store, due to lowered search intentions.

Compared to a single unit price promotion, a multiple unit price promotion (volume offer) increases the quantity consumers buy, even when the discount does not differ and consumers do not receive an incremental saving. This effect can be substantial. Importantly, a bundle discount can increase quantity decisions relative to per unit discounts even when consumers may not purchase enough of the products to qualify for the bundled discount.

The effects of bundles (pure or mixed) are partially explained by confusion in that consumers generally believe that bundles involve discounts (i.e. infer savings) even when they do not and no such information is presented. Bundling can also influence choices because it decreases cognitive effort.

Evidence specifically looking at the effect of time-limited advertising is inconclusive. However, it seems that under conditions in which time-limited offers do trigger feelings of scarcity, consumers are more likely to overestimate the product quality, or the value of the deal, lower their intentions to search, and have higher intentions to buy. Shorter time limits may augment this effect (though very short time limits may have an opposite effect).

Research suggests that pricing practices may be less effective in conditions where consumers are readily able to make memory based price comparisons, or have quick and easy access to price information, such as in online environments. On the other hand, pricing cues put forward by sellers both online and offline may still influence consumer behaviour, indicating that learning and/or easy access to information does not eliminate the impact of these practices.

If you don't like people

If you do not like people then RETAIL is not for you.

When we start our retail presentations or training sessions then we most of the time start with these words: “If you do not like people then retail is not for you”.

Personally If find people fascinating: I always wonder what happened to them just before they came into the shopping centre or the grocery shop, or why they buy the most outrageous ice-cream concoction in the ice-cream shop.   I always wonder why they are chomping their food down, why are they in a rush, why are they rude to staff members, why are they flirting with each other or why they walk so slowly, and why they do not see the big advertising board right in front of them?

I was shopping this week and observed an elderly couple, walking around painstaking slowly. She took the lead and he held onto the trolley for dear life with trembling hands. I couldn’t help but wonder about their story. Not long after, I found myself in the line behind the elderly couple at the checkout.
The staff member greeted then with the robotic “how are you today” as she turned her body away from them, following the correct procedure - just on auto pilot.

Then the lady answered: “Not well today, but I am sure you do not really want to know?” The staff member did not answer her, it was an awkward moment for all the customers in line waiting to pay. The elderly woman again repeated by saying again: “You most probably don’t want to know”.

All customers in the line were staring the staff member down, challenging her to say something, anything.  She just ignored the woman, settled in behind the cash register and started to ring up her groceries.

People do not come to your store to merely buy stuff. They are human beings coming in with a lot of baggage, with expectations, with sadness and with happiness and we have a responsibility to treat people as humans before we serve them as customers. You may agree with or believe this is just how the cookie crumbles.

Everyday we have moments where we can make a difference to someone out there. Serving them, just answering them, looking them in the eye, respecting them and laughing with them. And that is the most valuable customer service moment you have in your store.

And if you think we are exaggerating, let me leave you with this thought: Tom Peters, one of the great living Management Thinkers, recently published his BIG SIX – motivational    quotations that meant the most to him. Read the list carefully and you will see the central theme is one of humility, sacrifice and service. It is not old-fashioned – it is about LEADERSHIP.

  • “We do no great things, only small things with great love.”—Mother Teresa
  • “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble.”—Helen Keller
  • “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”—Anne Frank
  • “Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.”—Churchill
  • “To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”—Henry David Thoreau
  • “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”—Victor Frankl

Working in Retail may seem trivial and mundane, and in many ways it is. But no matter how trivial it seems, the opportunity to do good and to be great hides in the minutiae of daily interactions between humans for us to discover our soul.

[Written by Moonyeen Price]


Extracted from our (approximately) fortnightly newsletter.  THIS plus heaps of links and other insights.

How good are you at your Underground Job?

THE THREE JOBS WE DO

Image: gradrecruit.com.au

Image: gradrecruit.com.au

Your jobs does not comprise of one job, but three distinct ones. Your success or failure at your job is determined by the extent to which you understand the difference and the skill you have to do ONE of those jobs better than anyone else.

Job #1: THE OSTENSIBLE JOB

(This is the job we get paid to do)

This is what they tell you in the interview. This is the job you get HIRED for.

We arrive at work. We answer emails. Attend meetings. Sell stuff. Write reports. We draw, we make, we carry, and we inspect – all those TASKS that we will ostensibly be evaluated on when it comes to bonus time.

But if you listen carefully during your performance appraisal, you will find that rarely will your skills to do those tasks be questioned. (Occasionally, particularly in jobs that have clear, unequivocal outcomes – like sales jobs, or programming jobs – or relatively menial tasks - like manual labour - will there be some discussion around that, but that is the exception rather than the rule.)

Your skills at these jobs are rarely questioned or questionable as you most likely have the basic skills set in order to be offered the job.

Job #2: THE SHADOW JOB

(This is the job we don’t get paid to do)

These tasks are not in your job-description, but everyone does some of these at some point. The Job # 2 is the shadow job.

All those tasks that you have to do as part of Job #1, have a shadow job:

Helping a colleague solve a problem. Organising the Christmas party. Cleaning up in the kitchen. Baby-sitting a new employee.

It is about arriving early and staying late. Going the extra mile.

We all willing contribute on those extra jobs in category #2. We think it will make us stand out. We hope others will notice that we are team players. Organisations rely on this large pool of unpaid labour – corporate volunteerism that is driven people’s insecurities and needs to fit in. I would hazard a guess that if people didn’t participate in the Job #2s, few organisations would turn a profit. (Incidentally, labour unions thrive on isolating those extra bits and attempt to extract payment for it which is why corporations don’t like unions.

Job #3: THE UNDERGROUND JOB

(This is the job that gets you paid.)

This is the most important job of all. If you don’t succeed at this job, you won’t be employed for very long and your success will be limited. This is the job you get FIRED for.

There is the good stuff:

Being nice. Being liked. Smiling when you don’t want to. Dressing appropriately. Keeping up appearance. Swallowing a sarcastic comment.

And there is the bad stuff:

Undermining someone. A gentle backstab here, an assassin’s smile there. Adding a bit to the gossip and tapping into the grapevine.

We all SAY we love doing job #1. We ALL say that Job #1 is what really matters. We sign up for Job #1 and we think that is the job that really matters. But it doesn’t.

Career advisors try to match your skills and interests with the tasks of Job #1. This is a futile exercise, because ultimately, every job becomes a sales job as you must learn to sell yourself.

Go on leave for a month, and somehow things still get done. It just shifts around as Job #2 for others to take care of. NO matter how indispensable we think we are, the jobs always get done.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

You design your resume to show of your skills and experience in Job #1 – The Ostensible Job.

You interview to show off your ability and willingness to do Job #2 – The Shadow Job.

You keep your job by delivering sufficiently on Jobs #1 and #2.

You succeed or fail by your ability to do the Underground Jobs - that is Job # 3, and the hardest of all.

There you go, the secret is out.

A list of 15 simple things to improve retail customer service

A few weeks ago I passed on a few tips on where to stand when selling to a customer.

This week I am passing on another 15 practical tips – many of these grounded in neuroscience and other based on common sense and personal experience. But they ALL WORK and they are free and easy to implement.

Image: gagdonkey.com
  1. Make eye contact when you greet the customer.
  2. Nod affirmatively when the customer explains what they want
  3. Empty the dustbins. Close drawers. Close doors that lead to back of hose from customer view.
  4. Hand the bag to the customer in such a way that THEY get to grab the handle directly.
  5. Ask if they want the receipt in the bag. (Don’t tell.)
  6. Offer to carry heavy items to a car. (If you sell them, you must be staffed/ equipped to deal with it.)
  7. Open on time and don’t close early.
  8. Set the music volume to the level customers will enjoy. (Not staff.)
  9. When customers buy something – affirm it by telling them it was good/smart choice.
  10. Clean windows, floor and shelves. In fact clean the whole store while you are at it.
  11. Come out from the behind the counter where ever possible. (If the store is designed in such a way.)
  12. Pay specific attention to how the customer wears/uses whatever it is that you are selling.
  13. Say something complimentary about the customer – bonus points for referencing #12 above.
  14. Be a great advertisement for your own product. Wear it. Show it. Use it.
  15. Make sure the spotlights in your store actually illuminate the merchandise, not the floor or walls. (The way it was designed to do.)

It is not like it is ME telling YOU how to run your business here. What I am doing is I am passing things on from the CUSTOMER’S perspective in the hope that you will see it that way and make the changes.

You see, you may want to go multi-channel and all that fancy stuff, but if the foundations of your business is not build on a great service delivery platform, technology will amplify your mistakes. And I really mean AMPLIFY.

(If you don’t believe me, just google ‘PR disasters, brands’ or something like that and see what technology will do tot the ill-prepared.)

Like the previous post, it will be fun to collect all YOUR little tips to improve customer service. Maybe we can crowdsource a customer service manual in the comments section below?

Have fun

Dennis

GANADOR: Skills. Strategies. Solutions.

 

The truth about brainstorming (Friday Funny)

There is a word that may cause offense. By the standards that apply to workplace conversations today, I hesitate to call it NSFW, but apologise if the word offends. What I would like to commend to you is the sentiment and the message. Have fun.

HT: @BRAND DNA

HT: @BRAND DNA

Ganador Blog is about #thinkdifferent. We cover topic of business- and personal development aimed at entrepreneurial marketers. (c)Applies. Posts authored by Dr Dennis Price.

8 scientific insights about Life that are well worth learning

Here is a summary of eight insight that are - AT FIRST - surprising, but once you start thinking about it, it becomes obvious why it is so.

  1. Optimistic people are much less likely to die of heart attacks than pessimists, controlling for all known physical risk factors (Giltay et al., 2004).
  2. Women who display genuine (Duchenne) smiles to the photographer at age eighteen go on to have fewer divorces and more marital satisfaction than those who display fake smiles (Keltner et al., 1999).
  3. Positive emotion reduces at least some racial biases. For example, although people generally are better at recognising faces of their own race than faces of other races, putting people in a joyful mood reduces this discrepancy by improving memory for faces of people from other races (Johnson & Fredrickson, 2005).
  4. Externalities (e.g., weather, money, health, marriage, religion) added together account for no more than 15% of the variance in life satisfaction (Diener et al.,1999)
  5. Economically flourishing corporate teams have a ratio of at least 2.9:1 of positive statements to negative statements in business meetings, whereas stagnating teamshave a much lower ratio; flourishing marriages, however, require a ratio of at least 5:1 (Gottman & Levenson, 1999; Fredrickson & Losada, 2005).
  6. Self-discipline is twice as good a predictor of high school grades as IQ (Duckworth & Seligman, 2005).
  7. Happy teenagers go on to earn very substantially more income 15 years later than less happy teenagers, equating for income, grades and other obvious factors (Diener et al., 2002).
  8. How people celebrate good events that happen to their spouse is a better predictor of future love and commitment than how they respond to bad events (Gable et al.,2004).

The nature of the internet is such that we are exposed thousands of potential life-changing insights on any given day. The eight listed here all have that potential, but chances are that all that they get is a cursory glance.

More's a pity...


Turns out there is a recipe for happiness after all

It just isn’t what you may think, or think you want.

ABD AL-RAHMAN III was an emir and caliph of Córdoba in 10th-century Spain. He was an absolute ruler who lived in complete luxury. Here’s how he assessed his life:

“I have now reigned above 50 years in victory or peace; beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: They amount to 14.”

WOW! That is the only appropriate response, right? In 50 years of unequalled power and wealth and good health, he achieved two weeks of happiness.

When you really think about, you will realise that our evolutionary drivers (and maybe even our sinful nature) means we are hardwired to seek four things. The first three of these are:

  • Fame
  • Wealth
  • Sexual variety

These things make us more likely to pass on our DNA. Had our cave-man ancestors not acquired some version of these things (a fine reputation for being a great rock sharpener; multiple animal skins), they might not have found enough mating partners to create your lineage.

But, cruelly, these things help us procreate more effectively to increase the likelihood of survival, but do not necessarily produce happiness. The article I found on this topic simply suggests that Mother Nature is cruel because she does not care/ require us to be happy.

I actually think that is the fourth element of this evolutionary quartet. IF fame, wealth and sexual variety made us content and happy, it would actually be counter-productive as it would incentivise us to rest on our laurels at some point.

By causing perpetual UN-happiness instead, it ensures we continue to pursue more and more of those things that ensure our survival, and entrenches our unhappiness.

I have redacted this wisdom from an article I found online. Read the whole article here – it is probably the best 10 minutes you will spend this year – if you actually turn the advice into action.

The recipe for success I promised in the title is this: LOVE PEOPLE. USE THINGS. (And not: LOVE THINGS. USE PEOPLE.)

(This post was the introduction to our Fortnightly #thinkdifferent newsletter. You can have a look at our archives – and subscribe - HERE to get more of it if you like.)

12 trends and ONE thing you can do about it

The following changes will materially affect your retail future:

1.      Manufacturers in retail

2.      Wearable technology

3.      Mobile phone usage

4.      Ageing workforce, ageing market

5.      Ethnic diversification

6.      Multi-channel delivery and engagement

7.      Social media communications strategies

8.      Diminishing career loyalty

9.      Price convergence online/offline

10.   Drone technology in the supply chain

11.   3D Printing

12.   Peer2Peer Transactions

 

Of course there are more – but you get the idea: change is relentless, overwhelming and unpredictable. You have two options to deal with this future:

A.     You can develop strategies for each one, assign resources and monitor progress in order to respond. You anticipate, you react. You constantly fight. You win some and you lose some – but you can never stop worrying.

B.     Or can you build your organisational culture to be an adaptive system. A system that is self-governing that thrives on complexity and is anti-fragile.

Which one is the hardest? Which is the most effective?

Most importantly, what do you choose?

How do you like living under THIS regime?

Pop-quiz: Can you name the Regime I describe below?

  • There is complete control over communications network where every person using it can be identified within minutes down to the exact location.
  • Every piece of communication is archived and is accessible in perpetuity, and the State has access to it at any time. (Anything you say can and will be used against you.)
  • There is no privacy.
  • There is a cadre of hundreds of thousands of people who freely volunteer their time and resources to assist the regime to monitor all communications made by citizens.
  • Anyone who is deemed to make an inappropriate comment or communication is immediately identified; their transgression publicised, and is mocked and ridiculed by all other citizens relentlessly.
  • Perceived transgressors are then marked for life and are monitored by other citizens, the press or anyone who stands to gain from any further transgression.
  • The standard of what is acceptable is very narrow, and must conform to the view of the masses in every respect. These standards are not published anywhere and are subject to change at any time at the whim of the opinion leaders. Additionally, these standards govern a wide range of issues, including matters of opinion, science, religion, politics, sport entertainment – in fact it covers every sphere of life.

Can you guess the regime?

This is how Wikipedia describes the role of STASI in the Nazi Regime:

One of its main tasks was spying on the population, mainly through a vast network of citizens turned informants, and fighting any opposition by overt and covert measures including hidden psychological destruction of dissidents.

Or were you thinking maybe Cuba or North Korea? Russia perhaps - despite the demise of the Cold War and Communism?

Sadly, it is Australia.

Actually this regime is everywhere. It exists in your pocket or wherever you keep your mobile phone. It exists pretty much everywhere you care to go and every one of us now lacks the freedom to speak our minds. It's the new internet.

I am not suggesting the impact is anything like what happened in Germany and I am not trying to suggest the situation then and situation now are the same, except for the process by which one group dominates the conversation. I am using an extreme example to illustrate that suppression of free speech is a bad thing; even if you happen to agree with the argument, the other side should always have the right to argue their case peacefully.

The left-leaning pseudo-intellectuals have taken over public discourse and they shall brook no interference. On social issues; unless you are pro-climate change, pro-gay marriage, pro-abortion, anti-racism and anti-religion; you don’t have a voice the vigilante trolls will allow.

  • Speak your mind at a conference and you will be howled down.
  • Publish a tweet and you are tolled into submission.
  • Publish a disagreeable blog and you become a hashtag.
  • Published a book and the critics are scathing.

Of course, they often hide behind the anonymity of an avatar.

The latest example of this is that of Gavin McInnes being asked to take leave of absence for publishing this article. (WARNING: Don’t read if you are easily offended.)

Naturally there are contrarian views around; human nature will see to it that there always are. What has changed now is that social media has equipped individuals with a megaphone that enables them to have a disproportionate influence on any debate.

The notion of ‘Social Proof’ has now entered the everyday lexicon so most readers will be acquainted with the idea. It is indeed a powerful motivator of human behaviour and is the force behind ‘crowd mentality’. And now we are the rule of this mindless mob.

Too often the loudest voices are least qualified to articulate an issue and their responses are characterised by a pseudo-intellectual self-righteousness that boggles the mind more than a Vodka smoothie.

And it is not only individuals who suffer:

There are literally too many to mention: Google “PR disaster on twitter” and you get almost 12 million results and “celebrity disaster on twitter” gets you 29 million plus.

Tell me what we have today is not a close sibling of that STASI regime of the NAZI era?

Soon, Christians and Conservatives will have to consider whether they ‘come out’ to society. Doing so will jeopardise their employment prospects and social standing. If you don’t believe Climate Change is what the climate lobby makes it out to be and if you dare question the science or methodology, then you do so at your own risk.

If your response is ‘serves them right’ or ‘now they will know what it feels like’ you exhibit exactly the infantile powers of reasoning that determines the level of the debate.

In the world we live in now, these are the things that are now normalised:

  • Using illicit drugs is now socially acceptable.
  • Calling someone a c*#t is OK too.
  • Mocking all forms of authority (from the PM to the local police officer) is a badge of honour.

As it happens, I share some of the views of the rabid rabble, even as I seek to distance myself from their general conduct. I have written about this before in 2012, and it has only gotten worse.

In her biography on Voltaire, Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote:

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

This is often misattributed to Voltaire himself as an illustration of Voltaire's beliefs, but no matter who said it, Hall's quotation is often, rightly, cited to describe the principle of freedom of speech, and I personally could not agree more.

In Australia the Liberal Government recently tried to amend the definition of Free Speech by repealing a few words of Section 18C - that something that is ‘offensive’ should not naturally be classified as hate speech. The UK edition of The Spectator summarised it smartly:

If free speech is only for polite persons of mild temperament within government-policed parameters, it isn’t free at all.

(I found this piece when I was searching for the Voltaire quotation above, and it is along the same theme I am writing here – only written by a professional – Mark Steyn - who articulates some of the issues more eloquently. Well worth reading, and don’t miss the comments; all 1300 of them.)

I find it offensive that you may call someone a c&*t, but I respect the right you have to say so. Everyone is now gluten intolerant and pro-abortion. How the world turns on the whims.

I suppose that is what happens in the absence of an absolute moral authority when everything is relative; society begins to unravel at the edges as the moral tide ebbs and flows with the whims of the easily led masses.

C’est la vie.

The answers to the Retail IQ quiz

Here are the answers to THIS QUIZ.

1.     AVERAGE INVENTORY AT RETAIL

2.      FIRST/PRIME MARGIN

3.      OPEN TO BUY

4.      UNIVERSAL PRODUCT CODE

5.      FAST MOVING CONSUMER GOODS

6.      DIRECT PRODUCT PROFITABILITY

7.      ASSETS

8.      NEWSAGENT

9.      # of TRANSACTIONS

10.   MERCHANDISE (COST OF GOODS)

11.   The cycle of 4 week, 5 week, 4 week months of a typical retail calendar

12.   MARKDOWNS

13.   SALES PER SQUARE METRE

14.    (GP$/Sales$) x (GP$/Ave Inventory at Cost)

15.   (Current Assets/ Current Liabilities)

16.   1.5 (Nothing happens when it is less, it is just unhealthy)

17.   1.2 – 2-2

18.   12% - 18% (for some it could be double that, but 15% is somewhat of a sweet spot)

19.   FIRST

20.   COLOUR BLOCKING

21.   FOCAL POINT

22.   DEPARTMENT STORE (although some supermarkets are not selling e.g. clothes)

23.   Product, Price, Place, Promotion, Presentation, People

24.   Trade Area Analysis (of a retail precinct)

25.   OPPOSITE (each other)

 

Be ruthless and honest with your scoring and multiply by 4 to get your percentage. Let me know how you went…

© 2014 Ganador Management Solutions (Pty) Ltd PO Box 243 Kiama, NSW, 2533 Australia Tel: (+61)2-4237 7168