Retail Associates Retail Management Success Guides and Tools Retail Management Courses Retail Business Opportunity DMSRetail Consulting Services Retail Membership Program Retail Success Tips Retail Articles Ultimate Retail Success Collection Retail Management Blog


How Important are Retail Associates to Your Business

by Josephine Hill, Senior Consultant, DMSRetail

Ultimate Retail Success Collection

A study recently published by Wharton, University of Pennsylvania and Verde Group discusses the findings of a survey of 1000 randomly selected consumers. The objective of the survey was to discover what problems shoppers were encountering during their shopping experiences at retail stores and which of those problems were most likely to be discussed with others and which actually put customer loyalty at risk.

The findings were, of course, predictable. In the final analysis, sales associates appear to be able to Ďmake or breakí the shopping experience. I donít believe we really need surveys to figure this out but, given the simplicity of the findings, they will likely be of some use in convincing retailers of the reality. has always maintained that retailers should pay more, expect more and get more. see article at

The study may also be useful in identifying actual behaviors that retailerís can address in order to ensure their customer loyalty is not at risk. The bottom line is that the majority of customers take greater issue with sales associate problems than with store problems. So, if you address the behaviors of sales associates and do an adequate job with your store, merchandising, pricing, etc. you should be able to keep your customers satisfied with their shopping experience, encouraging them to speak about your organization only when they have something favorable to say and, of course, to keep coming back.

The most damaging sales associate problems were found to be:

1. Not being able to find a sales associate,

2. Being ignored by sales associates and

3. Insensitivity to long check-out lines.

Iím sure that could not come as a surprise to anyone in retail management. Those problems have all been addressed, havenít they? How is it that they continue to be issues facing consumers in the 21st century?

To this retail consultant the study provides very interesting reading particularly when you get to the part where the retailer is let off the hook for the problems presumably created by sales associates. It is absolutely unbelievable that this paper would justify the retailers that provide inadequate wages and insufficient staff levels to properly take care of their customers. They say that most of the required sales associate behaviors are trainable and recruiting a certain type of individual in the first place will solve these issues.

It is suggested, in the study, that competition in the retail industry may not permit higher wages or bonuses to be used to recruit better talent. It is also suggested that hiring more workers wonít necessarily help but having staff who are sensitive to the customers needs may. So, having too few associates is acceptable as long as those associates are sensitive?

It doesnít work that way. Having too few associates on the sales floor shows the companyís lack of sensitivity to both the customers and the associates. Even the most sensitive associate will lose their focus on their customers if the tasks involved in maintaining the store are overwhelming or if there are too few sales associates to properly service all of the customers. At some point even the most sensitive associate will feel that the company doesnít provide enough hours (payroll $) for proper floor coverage and execution of tasks so it canít really be that important.

It goes without saying that Store Managers should be recruiting associates who are friendly, outgoing, intelligent, well presented, image appropriate, respectful, sensitive, and the list goes on. If all sales associates were model hires, the problems for customers would largely disappear provided the store is sufficiently staffed. But most retailers are not willing to pay higher hourly rates or to compensate based on performance. They cannot attract the model individual so they continue to hire, and attempt to train, unqualified individuals who are willing to accept lower wages. Often these associates cannot be counted on to take care of business the way the retailer expects them to. On top of that, there are usually too few of these individuals on the sales floor. Wages and compensation plans for retail store employees need to be studied again and again until a solution is found. Usually that solution can be found by cost reduction measures being applied to other areas of the business Ė instead of the store sales floor Ė and by scientific evaluation of the correlation between sales and payroll.

I canít begin to explain why this is not being discussed in more boardrooms.

You can reach Josephine Hill at

If you want to get more relevant articles, tips and information please subscribe to our free newsletter



Return to Viewpoint Main Page

How You Can Reach the Maximum Potential of Your Store, with DMSRetail's

Starter Mega Retail Success Bundle

And Beat the Performance Curve, FAST

 Management Blueprint to Create Your Own Retail Success Machine

Mega Retail Success Bundle

New! 5 more Success Tools and 5 Great Bonuses added! Save even more!

Super Retail Success Bundle

Super Retail Success Bundle

Retail Management Training Programs

Best Practices for Managing a Multi-Unit Retail Operation

Online Training: Now you can get quality training wherever you are!

If you own or are in charge of multiple stores, this is the ultimate training to get. Everything you need to know to make sure your stores are firing in all cylinders and zooming fast to success you have not seen before. Click below for more information and registration:

Best Practices for Managing a Multi-Unit Retail Operation

The Retail Management Workshop

Highly rated 3-day Training Workshop  for retail managers who are interested in cutting edge information and advanced concepts in Retail Management. Join us for 3 days of top retail management training and workshop to enlighten and energize yourself to perform at the leading edge of the profession. This is one of the best investments you can make in your professional and personal development. Click below for more information and registration:

The Retail Management Workshop

Retail Business Academy - Definitive Resource Center for Retail Management

Please click on the banner for more information

Retail Business Academy


  Retail Management Newsletter                

 Spread the Word: DMSRetail + FacebookDMSRetail + Google+DMSRetail + LinkedInDMSRetail + TwitterDMSRetail + YouTubeRetail Management Blog Feed

Retail Success through effective performance leadership, training and technology!

DMSRetail Privacy Policy

Send mail to with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 2003-2016 DMSRetail Inc, All Rights Reserved.