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High on attitude, low on sales.

India, Nov. 5 -- One day a senior colleague of mine shared an experience with a luxury brand store where she almost went back home without buying the product. She told me that she went to the Tod's store and liked a pair of shoes and asked the sales staff to take it off the racks so that she could try them on. According to my colleague, the first reaction from the staff was, "but madam, it's not on Sale!" Obviously, my colleague who I know very well as a lady who loves to shop, wasn't looking for something from the sale. So she tells the staff that she wasn't looking for something that was on Sale. Then the staff once again urged her to try something else and not the pair that she actually liked. Finally as she was ready to walk out of the store without buying anything, the staff reluctantly offers her what my colleague originally wanted. And when I met her in my office she told me, "can you imagine, while these brands are having a tough time getting customers here, the sales staff at this store tried her best not to sell me these pair of shoes."

Similar thing happened with Armani here as well where a VVIP wanted the brand to send her a few pieces home so that she could choose what she liked and the brand refused to do it because their "global policy did not allow them to do that."

Yesterday, I got a call from someone from Tod's. When the call came I did not know where it was coming from as the caller just told me his first name. And when I asked where he was calling from without bothering to tell me, he just hung up on my face. Initially I thought it was a prank played by some one. But, as an after thought, the guy called me again after about 40 minutes and then told me he was calling to invite me to an event that was happening on the next day at this store, then I realised who he was and why he was calling.

Many years ago, my good friend Armando Branchini, the Managing Director of Italian luxury brands' associating Altagamma and I had a discussion on how ignorant the sales staff of some of the brands that are present in India is. We also discussed the need to train these guys on the aspects of luxury so as to make them understand the need to please their customers. If numbers are what they are looking at, and I know that's what they are looking at, they need to get their acts together and they ought to do that pretty fast. A few of these brands are pulling their shutters from other cities (my Chief Editor asked me to look into this and soon my findings will appear in print as well).

Shutting shops are black marks on the brands for sure and the funny thing is that they are shutting not because their products are bad. It is because of inefficient people running their brands and below average sales staff with hardly any knowledge of the product manning sales counters. Add to that their ego that they forget to leave behind while coming to work.

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Date:Nov 5, 2011
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