Bealls Test Drives Employee Discount Promo
By George Anderson
Conrad Szymanski, president of the Bealls department store business, recently told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, “There’s not an original idea in marketing.”
Of course, Mr. Szymanski is not particularly concerned if a marketing idea is original as long as it brings customers in the store who leave with merchandise purchased at Bealls.
That’s why, after seeing how well the employee discount promotion program worked for General Motors, Mr. Szymanski thought it was worth a try at his stores.
Yesterday, the department store reduced prices on all its merchandise by 20 percent — the same price paid by employees — in a one day event to try and capture “last-minute purchases by parents before their children go back to school.”
Ellen Davis, a spokesperson for the National Retail Federation, said, “I’m surprised that a department store would pick up on the promotion. Then again, department stores have been among the most aggressive.”
“As a retailer you need to balance an enticeful promotion with fear of giving away the store,” said Ms. Davis.
Another concern, said Ms. Davis is, “If a consumer can get an employee discount without being an employee, what’s the point in going to work for the retailer?”
Moderator’s Comment: Will employee discount programs for regular consumers be as successful in other areas of retailing as in autos? Do the cons outweigh
the pros of this type of promotion?
We would take issue with an argument that has come up more than once when discussing employee discount programs and that is why someone would go to work
for a retailer if everyone gets the same discount.
The answer is simple — they need a job and an income. While there may be some more affluent consumers who are looking for something to do and go to work
at a department store for a discount, the vast majority of people working in retail do so because they need a job.
As to employees paying the same as non-employees for goods, it is fairly standard practice in retailing for employees to receive their discount based on
the price paid by consumers (even sale prices). We don’t know if that is the case here or in the auto promotions, but it is a question worth asking those running the employee
– George Anderson – Moderator