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Ali Shops Blog

Speaking For The Brand

August 8th, 2011
by Allison Kaplan

A shaggy, skater dude-type sales associate approached me as I browsed the new Superdry at the Mall of America. “Did you hear? Everything is 30 percent off,” he told me. “But I’m 100 percent on.”


Couple of minutes later, another sales guy, similar look, stopped me to see which tank top I was carrying. “Oooh, those are super soft,” he said, sounding as incongruous as I would selling fishing poles. Or is it rods? “I mean, I haven’t tried it on,” he continued, “But I’ve heard.”

Okay, I get it. Superdry has attitude.  I can’t help but wonder just how intentionally the sales staff was selected. Is it sort of like Hooters, where no applicant is discriminated, but golly gee, all those hired seem to fit a certain specific type (and measurements)? Did Superdry go out of its way to select smart alecks? Did the retailer tell associates to get extra chummy with customers and encourage banter beyond the usual, “Can I help you?”

Retailers are in a tough spot where service is concerned. Ignore me and I’ll complain. Hover, and I’ll get irritated. Compliment my selections, and I’ll assume you’re just gunning for a sale. Don’t comment, and I’ll question your expertise.

Whether or not you like the specific approach, at least give credit to those retailers that bother to have a strategy for sales associates. Trader Joe’s is a perfect example – it’s not by chance that every cashier that has ever rung me up wants to know my evening plans. Now, often, I want to reply “None of your business!” But I don’t, because I recognize they are making the effort to connect. And usually, by the time they’ve bagged my mountain of frozen enchiladas and dried fruit, I’m feeling a bit friendlier. My kids have stickers, my bags are neatly packed and I leave feeling upbeat.

If a store is going to arm its staff with a specific pitch line, the key is making sure it’s as productive as it is memorable. I didn’t challenge the Superdry guy with any questions that would have tested his “100 percent on” claim. I’d like to think he knows sizes, fit, stock and return policy as well as the closest bar. I have my doubts, but he gets leeway for originality.

Is there a sales pitch that amuses or irks you? I want to hear about it!

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2 Responses to “Speaking For The Brand”

  1. Rena Hall says:

    My daughter and I always laugh when we go in to Hollister because we know we’ll be greeted with a “hey, what’s up” by whoever is stationed near the entrance:)

  2. Kristin Krull says:

    It used to be that every time I stepped into Gilly Hicks at MOA, a sales girl had to make eye contact with me and recite something along the lines of “welcome to Gilly Hicks, a cousin store of such n such brand”. Wow, really? They really make each sales girl say all of that? Awkward. Disclaimer: I went in there again a few weeks ago and they don’t have to utter all that nonsense anymore. Good, it must’ve been embarrassing for the girls to have to say that to everyone without fail.

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