U.S. ‘Hard-Sell’ Tactics Invades London
By Tom Ryan
According to an article in the Daily Mail, “U.S.-style,
hard-sell tactics” have crossed the ocean to British retailers. Although
some of those practices mentioned included outright lying to a customer on
how an apparel item looks on them to get a sale, it also included somewhat
standard practices such as offering alternatives for desired items, suggesting
complementary items for add-on sales, and recommending signing up for the store
card for a discount.
“In the past few years, the U.K. seems to have changed from being a nation
of shopkeepers that could barely be bothered to stop gossiping with their friends
to acknowledge your presence, into a terrifying army of highly trained sales
ninjas who will say and do anything to try to part you from your money,” wrote
the author Claire Coleman.
The article summarized six key “tricks” used
by sales associates:
- Saying you have to take a minimum number of items into the fitting room
and deliberately giving you basics or items that co-ordinate with your choice
in the hope you’ll be tempted.
- Offering you tops, jackets or shoes to try on with the item you picked
up to try to up-sell or increase the number of things you buy.
- Telling you that you can bring an item back if you don’t like it
to try to get a definite sale.
- Trying to get you to sign up for a store card so you can get a discount
on the goods.
- Trying to sell you shoe care products to go with shoes, or jewelry to go
with an outfit.
- Taking your details for a mailing list — often they’ll get
commission for doing this and you’ll be bombarded with emails and mailings.
A worker at LK Bennett, a women’s apparel store, said the tougher economy
has led to more aggressive tactics. Sales assistants have always worked on
commission, but Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were recently introduced
for every member of the sales team.
“These are essentially sales targets for all areas, and
they are monitored weekly,” said the worker. “So sales have gone
from being simply about supplementing your basic pay with commission, to something
the job could be riding on. As a result, I know people who will try anything
to get a sale.”
Discussion Question: Which hard-sell retail tactics do you consider excessive
and which ones are acceptable?