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  • Writer's pictureJames

The Retail Experience

My name is James and I work in retail. August 2019 marks my four year anniversary.

Retail is one of those jobs where you love it and you hate it… and you love it and you hate it.

You know, you get to meet lots of new people. I run into all sorts of familiar faces, just from being in a location with lots of hustle and bustle.

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The days can be either fast-paced and interesting, or boring and monotonous. It depends. You can always zone your area, you can always sweep the floors.

I have a few customers who come in regularly, and they have their favorite cashier, and that sense of familiarity is a new friendship and business relationship that develops. People crave relationship in the digital age.

So in retail, you have to learn customer service and how to cater to people, their needs and what they want, and how to get customers in and out of the store quickly.

My father was in retail for years. He was what is called a working manager, and he would occasionally help sweep the floors, or he would hop on a register to cash out customers when the lines were long. Customers will notice such things. Also, store employees will feel comforted by the team effort.

And you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat an employee at the grocery store. Most people are good and kind and reasonable – but you always get that one customer who doesn’t hesitate to mistreat an employee when things don’t go their way. The employee is there to be helpful and the customer will take advantage of that.

Watch out for that person, as that is how they’ll treat you once they are comfortable.

Customer service. I have been in it for a few years now, and while I’m experienced, I have co-workers who easily run circles around me in solving issues. When I first started, I was training for cashier and it was overwhelming, but each day got a little easier.

I had a large order, a pastor buying supplies for his church event, and we were casually talking. The lady in line behind him was fine, but the lady in line behind her became completely upset.

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She wanted the express trainee line, and she wasn’t happy with all the conversation while I was scanning items.

My trainer and I did not get in trouble, as when you can, you are supposed to offer excellent customer service.

That being said. The more experienced cashier might have been able to handle the angry customer better, and turn the situation around so the customer leaves happy, but not always. It’s a skill level comparison.

I think everyone should join the military for a few years out of high school, and then they should also work at their local grocery store for a few years while they go to college. Those are unique perspectives.

And every day is something.

People come in, barely wearing any clothing.

People always need price checks and want to dispute the prices. Like come on…

There is the occasional crazy customer fight. Sometimes to create a distraction for shoplifters.

People get walked across the store to the security office by police, for attempting to leave the store with a cart full of unpaid merchandise.

I had my register robbed by a loud, crazy guy with a knife.

So I remember my uncle was visiting my cousin down south, and my cousin had to warn him that going through the checkout line in the south wasn’t like up north.

In the south, the culture is more casual and friendly and the cashier actually cares what you have to say, and they might show more concern and hold up the line if you say you are having a bad day.

I thought that was funny.

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Up north where I live it can be tough, there is a lot of hurry sickness. People live their lives with a long checklist and it tends to cloud their judgment.

I certainly don’t live down south, I live in a northern state, but I do my best to provide a great customer experience. I smile and greet the customer. I look to organize their bags so that the food is bagged separately from the non-food.

You can put six cans in a bag, double the bag, hand it to the customer. And the meat in another bag. The bread should be bagged separately too.

I attempt to train new cashiers on this and some really pick up on it, some people struggle and want to go their own way. Not everyone is teachable.

I will wrap up my post by saying its all part of the experience economy. People can always take their business somewhere else.

The experience a customer has when they leave your business will determine how soon they’ll be back.

– James –

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