Associates’ Smiles Promote Sales

Jun 14, 2002

More than 4,000 retail executives and associates surveyed recently echoed the notion that to be a success in retail, sales associates have to have direct contact with customers, reports the Tampa Tribune.

“What I learned was that people who are nice to customers sell better,” says Pete Nordstrom, president of the company’s full-line store group, who honed his skills at the women’s shoe department as a young teenager at his great- grandfather’s store in Seattle. He says the principle applies just as much at his upscale stores as it does at huge discounters.

Although Nordstrom’s sales at its stores that have been open more than a year dipped last year compared with the year before, it had less of a decline than competitors such as Saks, Dillard’s and Marshall Fields.

Ken Banks, co-founder of Totalbrand Integration, a service that helps companies discover what to look for when hiring, says one reason Wal-Mart is thriving and Kmart is struggling is its employees. “People kept going to Wal-Mart because it was a store they trusted,” Banks said. “People smiled at them there.”

Moderator Comment: How can retailers develop an associate culture that is customer responsive and a clear business asset? Why do most retail operations seem to be falling short in this area?

We do not completely disagree with Ken Banks but come
on, if Kmart had significantly lower prices than Wal-Mart it would have been
able to overcome the associates that would not smile. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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