A couple of weeks ago me, Jen and the kids headed to our nearest big electrical store, Currys at Braehead Shopping Centre. We were going to look at televisions for the new room we have called 'the den'. It's only a small room, it was previously a garage, so we only required a small television for it. Nothing like those enormous 50" panels you see, just a 32" would cut it.
We arrived at the store and found the televisions department. Mega expensive massive televisions at the front and at the back in the dark are the small and relatively cheap televisions. As we were only looking for a 32", we made a beeline for the back of the department.
We had a price bracket and within that bracket we had narrowed it down to a handful of television sets. Having found the television that we wanted, I tried to grab the attention of one of the store staff. Short of knocking one of them over the head with a set of speakers, I couldn't get assistance from any of the staff in this department.
While doing this I did see the television we were looking for in stock. However I did want to just check a couple of things with the staff before we purchased it. Having no success at all in trying to pin down a member of staff, we decided to cut our losses and left the store, without purchasing the television we liked.
Having stood there for close to 20 minutes, it was clear where the staff's attention was. The big purchases, the big televisions. As we left we passed two groups of staff that had suddenly congregated either side of the front row of big televisions in the department. If someone stopped to inspect one, they would be in an excellent position to help the customer and in turn, attempt to get a big sale. Beyond that row, you were doomed for assistance. It was like tiered customer service. Those that spend more get more service.
Once we got home, I purchased the same television online from another retailer for the same price. I could have bought the television online from Currys, but given the lack of assistance I got from staff, why should they get a sale from me?
Most big retailers have online stores that give you online purchasing of their goods, but when you make a big purchase like this, sometimes a trip to the physical store does help you to see what it is you're actually buying. It's at this point, that the staff should be helpful no matter what price bracket you're buying in.
Even in a world where buying online is an option, some customers will still venture to the stores to check out goods in person before committing to a sale in the store or at the online store of that retailer. During this time, retailers should ensure that customers are served well if they want an in-store sale. However with service like this, it can put off customers not just for that one purchase but for many purchases after that.
There are a couple of appliances in the house that are nearing their time for replacement. Will I be venturing back to Currys to replace these appliances? Highly unlikely.
If customers don't like a store's service, they'll go elsewhere, and not just for that one purchase but many more after that. It's the oldest lesson in the book for retailers but has an added twist for the age of online retailers, customers vote with their feet, both physical and digital.