How to Make a Retail Employee's Life Easier in 6 Steps

Retail work is HARD. Helping customers on an almost-daily basis, I experience a lot of attitude. Don't get me wrong: this small difficult group is among the 80% of my customers that are wonderful, kind and understanding. However, retail is still incredibly stressful--it's the nature of the job. Please do what you can to understand an employee's experience and make it better the next time you go shopping. 1. Have patience. Please, do us a favor and don't shop when you're in a hurry unless you absolutely have to. Our product isn't going anywhere and it will keep arriving in shipment every day. Don't shout for us to attend to you like we are your pets, and don't express anger when you've been waiting *maybe* five minutes. Sometimes, there's only one of us in each area of the store (including one person both in fitting rooms and grabbing shoes).

2. Ask us how our day is. We always ask you how your day is going, how about paying attention to ours? We're people, too! Even if you don't have the time to ask us how we're doing, give us a smile and thank us for our help. We have a ton of other customers asking us for help in the same exact moment. When someone acknowledges that we are also human beings, it reinforces the reasons we love to serve them.

3. Understand corporate policies. This one really ruffles my feathers. We aren't making the rules; corporate is. If you are upset with our return policy or the way we handle our business, please take it up with the head honchos--not us. Sales associates (or even managers) don't decide whether to give you your refund or not. We also don't determine what we receive in shipment and which sizes we sell (or sell out of).

4. Observe your surroundings. We know it's confusing, but if it's not self-service, please search for one of us in the area you are seeking service before going elsewhere in the store to find help. We might be tucked behind a fixture where it's slightly harder to see, but we're typically within 15 feet of you. Try to look for us before blaming us for not helping you, 90% of the time we are given additional tasks that are vital to improving your experience.

5. Don't trash the vicinity. PLEASE don't trash your coffee cups amongst product. If there's any liquid left, it can easily tip over and ruin beautiful items that another customer might've been looking for. It also declines the overall atmosphere of the store. You can kindly ask us to throw away your garbage. Same goes for chewing gum. Also, if you don't want an item: stick it on a proper rack or give it to one of us. We don't expect you to know where everything goes. And if you have the time, please don't leave your unwanted clothes in a pile on your fitting room floor.

6. Remain civil with other customers. In my 3+ years in customer service, I've noticed a lot of stares and comments being made by customers about other customers, whether they're of a minority race, disabled, gay, trans, genderqueer, skinny, plus-size, or just a mom with a loud child. Please remain civil and polite. Causing drama in a retail establishment only makes our job harder and the experience traumatizing for our valued shoppers. Everyone deserves respect.

Throughout the years I've had the pleasure of working in fashion sales for a fantastic corporation, I've experienced it all and still continue to day after day. I'll admit: I had no idea how hard this job was until I was fully in it. From now on, my respect for retail workers will continue to grow.

There are little ways average customers can greatly improve the experience of a retail employee and fellow customers they shop around. If you are one of the understanding and compassionate shoppers: I love you. I mean it! You are a kickass person with a heart of gold.

Kathryn CoffmanComment