We Don't Have All The Answers

"The retail floor staff aren’t connected to the company and the products. It might be a training issue but there seems to be a bigger disconnect; it could just be that the training most owners conceive of isn’t connecting with the staff or there isn’t alignment around the goals and values. We always said that we could teach anyone to sell socks… but we could never figure out how to get a random new hire to CARE about selling socks or to find some joy and meaning in selling socks.”  

  • Outdoor Retailer in Oregon


“Read your blog post, I agree. I see it in my staff at times and I'm trying to hire more of the connectors and less of the stiff bodies.”

  • Outdoor Retailer in Pittsburgh


“I understand your frustration—my biggest concern is yes the current generation but the new one coming up the "alpha" is going to be the biggest challenge for all of us. I am not sure what gen I am as I was born in 1945—and I spent my early years helping sell apples, cider, etc at my aunt's farm—yes learning to reach out to people is going to be a hard lesson and I hope that all of us are up to it—keep up your work.”

  • Carolyn Crook, Pack Rat Outdoor Center


I get your emails, and more often than not, after scanning the opening, hit the delete key. Nothing personal, it just didn’t connect with me that day and I’m a busy guy. This post, however, hit home because I’ve found the same thing in my travels when trying to support local businesses. More often than not, even after trying to engage with the staff/salesperson, the conversation is one way to a dead end. I leave and forget any reasons I may have had for returning. I also make a note to share this experience with my shop staff in conversation, but not as a staff meeting topic. It lets them know, without me lecturing, what I value and what I expect.”

  • Fly Fishing Retailer in Oregon 


 I was walking with my girlfriend last week, and she shared that her feet hurt from standing all day (she is in the medical industry). She recently went shopping at Dick’s Sporting Goods to try on Ón cloud shoes because she heard great things from other co-workers and wanted to see what they felt like for her. The shoe display didn’t have her size or a good selection, and no one was around to help answer her questions. When she made eye contact with an associate, they turned and went in a different direction. She said, “I didn’t realize I was a scary person to see.” She ended up finding her old reliable Nike shoes on Amazon. But at the end of her day, her feet hurt so bad, she had a hard time providing a calm environment to her clients in an extremely vulnerable space.


She went to Dick’s because she wanted that instant gratification of taking a pair of shoes home. But that didn’t happen. 


I was in Hallmark in the Fayette Mall in Lexington buying a graduation card and a Willow Tree Angel for my sister's celebration of life ceremony. It was lost to me where the graduation cards were. When I asked a sales associate, they looked at me, rolled their eyes, pointed in the direction, and looked down. Once I got to the cash wrap, the same associate was silent throughout the transaction, leaving me feeling unimportant. My heart was already broken wide open. A small connection would have gone a LONG way in that fleeting moment. 


I have always been curious about the dynamic of brands in retail stores. Who is responsible for the experience? Brands would say the retailer and the retailer would say the brands. Herein lies another interesting dynamic. Blame. Pointing Fingers. Both are indications of lacking experience, training, and connection. This isn’t to say that brands are not training. Brands 100% train on ALL the benefits and features of the product. But what about connection and experience with the customer? 


Retail is therapy. Retail is EMOTION first then logic. I went to Hallmark because my sister's best friend's daughter graduated from college the day of my sister's celebration of life and she came to my sister's celebration of life over her daughter's graduation. She needed love. My friend will never experience Ón clouds because when we are rejected in a store we buy what we know.


What would happen if brands and retailers BOTH begin to take ownership of their existence? How would this change the way we commerce? The fun part of brands like Ón Cloud or Willow Tree Angels is they have an EMOTION that evokes an experience. The same is true for Dick’s Sporting Goods and Hallmark. We instantly have a feeling that comes to mind when we think of brands. So how can both exist? How do we work together to allow the emotions of all the brands to come through to the sales associate and customer experience so that selling a pair of socks is meaningful and filled with purpose and emotion for everyone? 


The Mann Group doesn't have all the answers, but we have experiences that allow us to understand the disconnect and create solutions for retail and brands. I appreciate starting the dialogue. We want to continue the momentum to reawaken retail to the next level. This is just the beginning, and we are ALL doing the best we can. With more data, we can do better.  


Food for thought.  

If you are interested in pursuing an elevated path to retail experience please hit respond, email me at [email protected], or text 828-782-7188.


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