Posts Tagged ‘retail’

The Paradise on a retail sales experience

I just saw a preview on BBC for The Paradise. It is a costume drama about an upmarket department store. What impressed me was how Denise Lovett (played by Joanna Vanderham) made a sale of a tea dress (see a video of what’s behind the character of Denise). She had great tenacity and drive in what she did.

It goes something like this: Denise is the new salesgirl at The Paradise. A snooty rich woman comes in and the sales lady tries to tell her to buy an off-the-shelf dress. Miss snooty is taken aback that a woman of her stature would buy something off-the-shelf. The sales lady commands the girl (Denise) to show how the dress will look on an actual live model. Denise takes too long and realises that she can’t fit into it as its two sizes smaller. Then she speaks up and makes her forthcoming¬†pitch. About how the dress will look well on Miss snooty. How that is all that matters. How its been curated/hand-picked by the store owner. How its the talk of the town in Paris today. How it will be the talk of the town in London next month. How it can be sent to her home to try herself. And she tops it off with a guarantee – if you don’t like it, the sales lady will relieve her of her position. Miss snooty agreed.

It reminded me of what’s wrong with retail experiences today. It showed me how it would be nice to fix it. Most retail experiences today are no different to buying online.

In the old days (at least on this set), to sell a dress there were 3 people. Two sales assistants, one “girl”, who would live model clothes for you. Contrast this to today where sales assistants usually do not even bother to talk to you. When was the last time a sales assistant knew a lot about the product and sold you on it based on her knowledge?

I can’t find The Paradise on BBC’s iPlayer, so I’ll try to go old school and look for some DVDs. Season 1 is 8 episodes, and I reckon you can mine a lot of interesting sales advice from it. Its renewed for Season 2 as well from what I gather.

The Apple Store Malaysia Phone Experience

On the 24th of December 2008, I came back from my little hiatus in Georgetown, Penang (in where I discovered the heritage and history of the city), and immediately started ringing up Apple Authorised Resellers to find out where in the blue hell, the new MacBook Air was. (Emphasis on the new, because all the resellers try to push the old one, to clear out their stock – in fact, they actively discourage you from getting the new one, saying the only modifications are the bigger hard disk, and better video card. They don’t mention the new Trackpad option in System Preferences, that leads you to four finger scrolling which allows you to bring up Expose or switch between applications – Mac+Tab).

Its constant delays, the fact that it was supposed to be out after Thanskgiving weekend, and so on, started really getting on my nerves. I had been waiting for this feather-weight laptop for a while, since the announcement.

Machines had none, and didn’t know when it was coming. EpiCentre had none, and didn’t know when it was coming. So I thought I’d take a chance at calling up the Apple Store Malaysia at 1800-80-6419. They even advertise saying things like “Kami juga berinteraksi dalam Bahasa Malaysia!”, which I loosely translate as “We can interact in Bahasa Malaysia too!”.

I get someone who barely speaks any English. But she has an accent. I ask her why they don’t sell any Air’s, and the fact that Christmas is tomorrow, how am I supposed to make my loved ones happy? She tells me she has no idea why and EpiCentre is the best place to ask. If they don’t have it, no one else will.

I say I will come into their office to pick a unit up. They tell me that that is not possible, they’re not Apple Retail. I say I know where such an office exists (I’ve vaguely remembered it from eons ago), and then she tells me she’s in *drumroll* Singapore.

So there, Apple’s support line for Malaysia routes to Singapore, and they’re generally not very helpful. And apparently, their QA on language skills is just not there. In fact, had I started off a conversation with her in Bahasa Malaysia, I have a feeling she wouldn’t have survived – Mandarin, maybe.

As an aside, EpiCentre in Pavillion had a couple of units available on 30/12/2008. I think as of today, they have one unit available… Go, go, rush to get ’em :-)