Maslow’s famous pyramid chart showing human being’s hierarchy of needs demonstrates that the needs at the bottom of the triangle (food, water, warmth and rest) must be met before those higher up can be attended to. I’ve creating a simple version for shopkeepers, with people as the most important component.

You’ll notice that I didn’t say customers were the center of our retailing universe, and that is intentional. I believe that we have to attend to the needs of both shoppers and staff in order to create a successful business. Without customers, there is no reason for a store to exist. But without good customer service, a store is not likely to survive or thrive. Cultivating a positive relationship with both shoppers and employees should be a high priority for every store manager.

Products, or merchandise, are next on the hierarchy — because we are in the business of selling goods. Creating and sourcing unique merchandise, and displaying it in a way that is visually exciting, is at the creative heart of retailing. We look to our vendors for inspiration, and for new products to keep our regular customers coming back. Our sales reps play an important role in helping us find goods that shoppers want to buy.

The least important part of running a store is policies and procedures. It’s true that I’m a big believer in having them in place so that every customer and every employee is treated the same way. But rules should be flexible. They should be bent, or even broken, when they don’t serve the highest goal of making the store a positive environment for the people who work and shop there.

Happy Retailing,
Carol “Orange” Schroeder

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