The Retail Snobs

Posted: 3rd January 2011 by Aditya Mahajan in Opinions, Thoughts
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This is a topic I have been itching to write on for a long time now. Its so happens a number of times with a lot of us who have a habit of visiting the shopping malls. These days shopping malls have also been divided into fairly broad categories, my categories for the same are the normal ones (the one which you would normally visit to have food and watch a movie may be) , the good ones (where you would go for a good dinner, a movie and shopping too) and then there are the upscale ones (which house mostly the international brand, most of which are out of reach for a normal day to day Indian shopper). Since there are three categories of malls, now they have three categories of employees too and this where the things take an interesting turn.

The normal malls would have normal employees who would attend to you and take your requests very politely and make you feel good that you visited their shop or showroom. These employees would not use their brains much and just obey what you tell them. The good ones would have a little brainy and smart people and they might be the kinds you feel good to deal with and at times they make you feel pampered while you are shopping at their shops or showrooms. There might be some incident snobs also in shops selling high-end perfumes or sunglasses but the ratio of snobs in these kind of malls is still less compared to what we are coming on with the third kind of malls. Now, lets talk about the third and the most “Ohh the high end type malls”.

You might enter these malls’ parking with a Bentley Continental GT or a BMW Z4 trailing your car for the parking queue. The engine growls of these cars making you envious and jealous at the same time. Once parked in your slot, you head for the lift and things are fine till here. Now, you enter the realm of eliteness and the environment of high-end brands be it in clothing or home decor or lifestyle shops. You can sell mud from your backyard in these kinds of malls, labeling it as special herbal mud (do you think I am joking, try it once, you can easily sell an ounce of mud  at maybe 100Rs an ounce). The main highlight and the point of observation in these malls are the shop employees or retailers as we might call them in the actual terms. You might say to yourself… “Hmm… this looks like a great shop with great collection that might be expensive…. okayy… lets have a look” and voila you are inside the shop and you get a piercing glance from the billdesk guy and he directs a guy/gal standing next to him to assist you. “How may I help you mam/sir” is the question that welcomes you …or sometimes just silence… and you make an eye contact with the visitor and can smile and say “I am having a look around, will let you know when I need your help” or you can just ignore them and keep doing what you are doing. And then starts the observable thing: this guy/gal would then look back at the billdesk and make some subtle gestures with the eyes or the nod of a neck and inform the bill desk that this is a no-no sale or just drift away , thinking that this customer is not going to buy anything. Till this point and behavior things are fine, its human nature afterall , humans cannot hold back without giving feedback in some manner to the anticipating sales manager.

Things get worse if you enter a really high end store, of dresses , home decor or blah shops… The employees here would look at you through their noses probably as they are held very high. I think at times, “Buddy why you are behaving like you own all the stuff in this shop, don’t forget you are just a bloody employee who probably earns lesser than me!!!” and yea this thought is true in most of the cases. A classic example of this happened with a colleague of my wife, she walked into a high-end decor shop called “Lladro” (this shop sells obscenely expensive porcelain figures) and she had to buy stuff from there as a gift for someone in family. The shop retailer walks to her , looking her through the nose. She has a look around and asks for a price of two figurines and gets replied in a very high-headed manner and the prices quoted in a tone having a backdrop: “Lady, you can’t afford this piece of porcelain, its expensive!!!” , she blasted the employee that :” Is this what you are taught in your retail courses and dude you jusk lost a probable customer.” , she goes to another “Lladro” shop and buys herself the same porcelain statue and makes the shop manager to call the snob in the previous shop that she had purchased stuff worth INR 55k. Though this might not have affected the ego of the snob, but the point here is that the retail shop guys/gals must realize a few things: firstly, they don’t own all the stuff in the shop, they are just empoyees. Secondly, do not judge a person’s worth from their appearance, you might be deceiving yourself and letting go an opportunity for a sale. thirdly, they should realize that “Why am I being such a snob?”.

This a topic which might have incidents and occasions that almost every one has experienced expect the “la-cream” gentry of the society. But the lesson learnt is that : “If you park your ass in a shop or place that offers high end goods or services, just don’t look at your customers with your nose” … 🙂

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