The Unfortunate Trends In Retail

There has been a lot of news lately about the amount of major retail players that have gone under or have just shut up shop. Whilst there has been a myriad of expert opinions from the finance gurus as to the reasons for this happening, I think it is a whole lot easier to explain, and if retail in general across Australia are not careful, they too will face the same outcomes as these recent companies have.

Let me explain by giving you an insight to my retail experiences this weekend and I am sure as you are reading this you will be able to recall similar situations you yourself have experienced. Combine my experience with your own and probably countless others, then BOOM, this is the issue in retail today.

One of my daughters just turned 16 and for some unexplained reason, we agreed to having a 16-year-old party at our house next weekend. The thought of 40 odd 16-year old’s invading my domain doesn’t excite me in the least let alone having to clean up their mess the following morning. But as I have to stay at the top of the “you are awesome dad” list, I caved in.

So, over the weekend we set about getting the “essentials” for this party. One of these essentials was a fire pit so the precious 16-year-olds could stay cosy and warm outside even though if they dressed appropriately in the first place they wouldn’t be so cold… but hey that’s just my way of thinking…. What do I know?

We ended up at a major BBQ retail outlet. We saw some of the fire pits at the front which seemed to be what we were looking for. I then went on to attempt what a lot of people have to unfortunately endure all too often these days within retail outlets….. I had to go into recon mode to try and establish contact with the rare and elusive and becoming extinct… the elusive sales person.

After searching high and low I eventually found one and asked for some assistance. We discussed our needs, wants and desires (yes, the good old stuff) to which she then showed us 3 different products that would suit our needs (after googling for the answers to some of our questions).

So just as the anticipation of a sale was looming she disappeared to do something far more important than our pending sale. She went behind the counter and started texting on her phone. Now to me that is a red rag to a bull but the wife seeing this red rag diverted my attention by fluttering her eyelids and… crisis averted.


After much debate about a stupid metal thing that holds wood and burns we had made our decision. After watching us spend ages trying to decide which of these metal containers would be perfect for the stupidly dressed 16-year old’s, you would think that the sales person would be somewhat excited for the sale…. Hmmm well after standing in front of her at her counter for about 2 minutes whilst we watched he chat to her girlfriend on the phone about what an “awesome night last night was” she finally decided to do the archaic thing of acknowledging the customer.

We told her which one we would like to purchase to only then be told “oh no, you can’t buy that one… we don’t have any stock of that… we need to order in it which will take up to 3 weeks”

WHAT???? Would you think that that would have been part of the conversation when we originally spoke to her about which ones were suitable?

We even tried to buy the display one but that was against “company policy” which made no sense at all. (Don’t get me started about any sale is better than no sale at all. That’s a totally new conversation)


So here is why I think retail is headed for a rough time unless things change.

Sure, there are issues that happen in the boardrooms of major retailers that can have a negative effect on their business, but what IS NOT being addressed or even contemplated is maybe, just maybe, retailers have forgotten to provide the basics to our customers and THAT IS WHY the consumer is turning off their loyalty!

This sale was a very easy one for this person that we had the misfortune to encounter. Firstly, we were ready to buy (which is what we all should hope lands in our stores) and secondly, we were prepared to do anything to take the product with us on that day (seriously…. We all would love to have an internally driven customer in front of us every day)


The issue was, and unfortunately is within retail in general these days, that due to the way that store was run, and the way that sales person behaved, the sale was doomed from the start.

Retail are getting a few things wrong and if fixed and addressed they will turn their results around.

  1. Make sure your staff aren’t playing hide and seek with your customers. They should be the most visible within the store.
  2. Always anticipate and encourage the impulse sale. Only have on display what people can buy that day (pretty dumb to expect customers to wait for delivery… ummm that’s why they shop online…)
  3. Product knowledge, product knowledge, product knowledge
  4. “yes” should be the answer a customer hears

Retail in Australia can be turned around pretty easily. The issue is, companies have either gone to “trendy” ways to train customer service and customer experiences instead of the good old face to face training, or have given up to the online shopping “trend”. The main reason people shop online these days is because in store experiences suck so may as well have no experience online.

Customer Culture is here to assist businesses to stand out from their competitors. Contact us here to see how we can help your business.


About Justin Herald

At the age of 25 with only $50 to his name, Justin Herald set about changing the course of his life.

Justin created Attitude Inc, a clothing brand that became an international licensing success that turned over in excess of $20 million per year.

Justin’s success was so well noted that he was named the “INTERNATIONAL ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR” for 2005. He recently was also awarded the Future Leaders Award, which recognises him as being one of the 50 most influential leaders of the next generation in Australia.

He is also Managing Director Customer Culture, one of Australia's leading customer service training companies, that not only teaches staff around the world “how” to give great service, but more importantly, “why” it is needed. This has proven a game changer with the companies that engage Justin and his team.

His website receives thousands of hits a month. He also is the author of 8 international bestselling books. He also personally mentors over 100 business owners each year

Justin is regarded as one of Australia’s most sought after speakers with engagements booked all over the country and overseas speaking in front of 150,000 people each year.