6 Times Retailers Need to Think on Their Feet

by Katie Sawyer, 4 minutes read
HOME blog times retailers need to think on their feet

There’s no such thing as a normal day in the retail industry. You can expect the unexpected every shift. In fact, some days you encounter endless surprises.

You were a wizard at solving problems by the time you got promoted to store manager. You earned your promotion for strong teamwork and solid customer service. And there’s no denying the fact you can pull a solution out of thin air. Every retail manager has faced at least several of the following situations, sometimes in a single day.

Check out these six times retailers need to think on their feet. What else would you add to the list?

1. A customer needs a different size

You just finished your break and walked back onto the store floor to find it much busier than when you left it. You check the fitting room and it’s just as busy. So that means it’s all hands on deck for anything that might come up.

You’re quickly walking to help out your teammate at checkout, but a customer stops you. He loves the jeans he found on display, but they’re slightly too small. Could you possibly help?

Of course. But when you check for a larger size, you see that the store is completely out of stock in the size they need. You’re also sold out of the next size up. You’ve got moments to salvage the situation and make the customer happy.

The customer may be able to pick up the right size later. At some stores, you can offer to ship the right size to a customer’s home. Sometimes, your only option is to recommend a similar item. You need to offer the best option for the customer before they leave frustrated.

2. The checkout line is wrapped around the corner — and you ran out of receipt tape

A cash register malfunction almost always happens right after a customer asks for a gift receipt. Usually, there’s also a giant line of customers waiting to pay. Hoping to discover a simple mechanical problem, you open the register and discover something much worse. You’re out of receipt tape, and you really hope you have extra tape beneath the register.

You may find yourself running across the street, begging to borrow receipt tape from a nearby fast food restaurant. You may just have to ask the person next to you. Whatever happens, you know one thing for sure — you do it with a smile on your face. Even if you’re secretly groaning on the inside.

3. The power goes out

The best time to train your employees on handling a power outage is before the lights start flickering on a busy shopping day. When the lights go out, you need all hands on deck to get shoppers safely outside a dark store.

Power outage training doesn’t always happen before you lose the lights. You may find yourself scrambling to get customers outside and fire up the generator or call the electric company.

4. An indecisive shopper isn’t ready to leave at closing time

There’s often one customer in the middle of an intense shopping trip when closing time rolls around. Sometimes, you flicker the lights and find a customer in the dressing room with 15 items who “just needs a few more minutes” or “a different size in this item.”

As a retail manager, you need to embrace your inner coach to get that customer across the finish line. A line that might help? “I often buy what I think I want and see how I feel once I get home. You can always return with the receipt. Either way, you’ll be happy to get it today.”

5. Confusion over sale prices

Misunderstanding around sales prices is the bane of every retail manager’s existence. You’ve been there. A sign that advertises a buy-one-get-one promotion, but is vague on what actually applies. Inevitably a customer will get confused, and you’re left dealing with an uncomfortable conversation.

To keep the customer happy, you might offer an additional discount. Or you can offer to share the feedback directly with the store manager. For an even more personalized response, you can ask for the customer’s information and send a follow-up email to apologize for the confusion.

6. Last-minute employee shift changes

You work really hard on employee time, attendance, and scheduling. However, perfect coverage can fall apart when someone calls out of work.

The easiest way to make no-show stress a thing of the past is by letting employees swap shift amongst themselves. Shift-swapping apps and automated scheduling can’t completely cure schedule headaches, but they make a huge difference and take the pain out of those last-minute decisions.

Retail management that automates the mundane

Daily challenges are one of the reasons retail management is such a rewarding career. While you can’t predict what tomorrow will bring at the store, you can make some daily decisions easier. Sign up for a free trial of Deputy to learn how you can automate some of the mundane admin of retail.