No Loyalty in Gated Retail



The Time is limited, challenges unlimited. Life is not easy for retailers even in the so-called gated retail zones, like high-end star-category hotels. These institutions ensure a certain visitor profile, but in turn they require that we raise the standard of our salescraft several notches, so as to convert curious glances and casual walk-ins into actual sales.
    
Well-travelled, well-exposed, well off — visitors to your showroom in a seven-star luxury hotel will have these important qualities, but they will also have little time to spare. They already are spoilt for choice, and they usually travel for work not leisure.
    The usual scenario is that these potential customers walk in to look around after they have checked out of the hotel but before they leave to catch their flight. During their stay in the hotel, a visit to the shopping area in the hotel is the last thing on their mind. When they visit your store, then, these consumers may not be primed to spend.
    
This does not matter. It is your job to turn that walk-in into a purchase.

BE RELAXED, BE QUICK
Striking up a conversation beyond the sale is a good starting point. It helps create a comfort zone for the customers. When attending foreign nationals, talk to them about their countries, their experience of staying and travelling in India, and so on. Natural, unforced communications like this help break the ice.
    
At our showroom I handle the high-end jewellery watches. I do my homework by keeping myself informed about the latest style, fashion and technology trends in the category. In this way I function as a dependable consultant who can help patrons choose the right product.
    
Always the clock is ticking. You have to pace your game to the time available. Sometimes you have to tell a story the way ad-makers do, when they fit a whole plot into a 30-second TV spot. At a location like ours, the Grand Hyatt in Mumbai, one can’t expect buyers with focused jewellery-buying intent, which is normally the case in regular high-street showrooms.

BE PRO-ACTIVE, BE PATIENT
Waiting for customers to walk in to your store doesn’t work. In this retail environment you are competing with other super-luxury brands in close proximity. You can’t afford to simply hope that things will happen; you have to make them happen.
    
Salespeople can help you make hotel guests aware of the showroom. We spend some time in the hotel lobby chatting with the guests, some of whom we invite courteously to the showroom. Even guests who have decided that they will ignore the shopping area can change their mind if you present your store properly to them in the lobby. Exchanging cards with guests often produces results when the purchase is related to buying a gift at the last minute. Sometimes, the exchange brings us referral purchases.
    
This game has one rule: be patient. Some people make a purchase within 20 minutes; others will buy nothing even after two years of visits.
    
Every day is a new day. Every purchase is a new purchase. There is no loyalty in this retail format. Here you do not have to convince prospective customers about your product, you have to convince them to consider purchasing something.
    
Such is the pure, hardcore salesmanship that lies behind the glitz and glamour of these locations.

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Shailesh Sangani MD, Priority Jewels, Mumbai, Maharashtra
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