You walk into a store. For the purpose of this story, let’s pretend you’re shopping for pants because you need a new pair of khakis. (Maybe you’re going out with friends or maybe you just got a job working with Jake from State Farm.) You know the size you need but you’re unsure of the fit and/or style that will work best for the occasion. This is an area I sometimes struggle with. Why can’t there just be an extra medium? As you begin looking around a sales associate says, “Is there anything I can help you with?” Do you cringe when you hear those words? How do you respond? [Take the poll at the bottom of this post!]
I’m willing to bet that 99.9% of the time you respond with, “no thanks, I’m just browsing.” To be honest, that’s my response most of the time, but I recently had a retail shopping experience that went beyond any (or at least most) of my previous experiences. Read on.
With springtime approaching, I decided it was time to make an upgrade involving one of my favorite outdoor activities; cycling. After six warm-weather cycling seasons I was ready to upgrade the bike I was riding. As much as I would enjoy telling you all about my new Specialized Tarmac, this story isn’t so much about me.
Eddy’s Bike Shop (Stow location) is less than a mile from my house. I’ve been in plenty of times for accessories, but this was my first time actually shopping for a bike. This trip was clearly the most exciting! As soon as I walked through the door, a gentleman approached me and said, “how can I help you today?” I could have responded with the typical phrase above, but instead I replied, “I would like to look at road bikes, preferably close-outs if you have any.” Let’s face it, road bikes are expensive so it was a priority to be a savvy shopper.
The sales associate, Chris, took me directly to the road bike section. He proceeded to get an idea of what type of rider I am (where I ride, how often, how fast, etc). He collected information about the bike I was currently riding and he asked questions about how I feel when I ride. After choosing a few possible matches, Chris provided detailed information about each bike, and explained that he recently visited the manufacturer’s headquarters to become certified with their product lines. Once I made a decision, the bike was connected to a stationary trainer and the measurements were fitted to my body dimensions.
The driving idea I want you to take away is that when shopping, whether it’s for pants or bikes, consider letting that person who offers help to actually help you. Retail sales people and customer service representatives are leaders when it comes to you finding the best product, but only when you let them be leaders. Your shopping experience can easily become faster, more efficient and even more enjoyable. Give that person detail about exactly what you want instead of just “browsing.” It’s not like you’re obligated to make a purchase afterwards.
I just realized…I need a new pair of jeans. Instead of rummaging through shelves by myself, I think I’ll let a sales associate help me find the right pair.