Sunday, October 11, 2009

Retail Incompentence Astounds me

Yesterday Yvonne and myself headed to Downtown Toronto for a little lunch with my sister, a tour of Yorkville (Yvonne had never been) and to purchase a new winter jacket at Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC).

Lunch was decent at Made in China on Yonge Street just south of Gerrard. We did a quick walking tour of Yorkville and visited Indigo so my sister could purchase a book. Following this we headed to Valu mart where my sister did a little grocery shopping. So far so good.

Yvonne and I headed down to King Street to MEC to investigate men's winter jackets for me. We looked through the two or three racks of jackets until I settled on the "Frostbreaker Parka". I wanted one in black and sorted through the rack twice by myself and at least once by Yvonne. This was to no avail. I tried on a brown one in my size and it fit perfectly. However, the brown I wasn't keen on.

So we tried asking one of the associates. The female associate was talking to another one right near the rack I was so I enquired about the size I wanted. She quickley went over and looked it up on the computer and we saw there was seven in stock. She dissapeared to the backroom for three minutes and returned empty handed saying they didn't have any.

I dejectly thanked her for her time and effort and slowly walked away with Yvonne. Yvonne wouldn't have any of it. She said we should ask someone else. Yvonne wouldn't take no for an answer from me and we wandered around the top of the store once more. Eventually I gave into her persistance and we approached a male associate at the back of the store. We told him what we wanted and again looked it up and saw seven were in stock. He dissappeared into the back again for three minutes and came back out WITH A JACKET!

I tried on the jacket and it fit perfectly. We walked downstairs and browsed the bag section for Yvonne before heading the cash.

One of my all time pet peeves in the retail environment is the poor back room organization and stocking practices. Working in the retail sector I know back rooms can be messy with a lot of stock coming in at one time. However, during down times the stock room should be organized to so that stock can be quickly found and moved onto the floor when required.

In my case MEC failed to have an organized backroom as the first associate couldn't find the jacket I was looking for even though there were seven of them. The other theory is the first retail associate I ran into simply "didn't care".

I prefer the original idea that their backroom is not organized. When I saw the male associate enter the backroom they had clothing up hanging from on high on racks and below also on racks. I presume these racks ensure the clothing is hung and is ready for the sales floor. However, I'm not quite sure in the brief glimpse how one tells what type of clothing is on the top rack or how it is retrieved from the top rack at all. So this may been a problem for the female associate who failed to find my jacket as she was looking on the racks and not for the boxes.

However, the male associate brought one out in a plastic bag with the jacket folded in it. This would suggest that the jacket came from a box of these and hadn't been hung up on the racks in the back ready to be moved to the sales floor. But then again, the fact the store didn't have any of my size on the floor in that colour and the next size down shows the store hasn't stocked the racks on the sales floor for quite some time. Perhaps if the staff on the sales floor weren't talking to one another and instead took greater interest in stocking the racks this problem wouldn't occur and more sales would be made.

This leads us back to stocking the racks in the first place (the first issue of my visit for my jacket). The backroom in theory should be where the items are brought into the store off the trucks and prepared (e.g. hung, price tagged, etc.) for the sales floor. Once this is complete the coats and other items should be brought out and put on display. If there is not enough room on the salesfloor, the existing stock on the salesfloor should be checked for sizes so that all sizes are on the sales floor and others held on the racks in the backroom waiting to go out as stocks were depleted. Obviously in my case my new jacked skipped the backroom prepping (first mistake) and never made it to the salesfloor when my size no longer had any there (second mistake). Follow this up with the female sales associate who couldn't find any despite there supposedly being seven in the store's inventory (third mistake).

What does all this amount too? A possible lost sale of over $100 for Mountain Equipment Co-op if not for the persistance of a wife of mine.

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