I was in Target the other day looking for something or other and decided that I also needed some sparkling water. So I slogged all the way over to the other side of the store. (Are they making Target stores bigger these days? This one was absolutely enormous.)
When I got to the sparkling water the sections of shelf that held the flavors that I wanted, either lemon or lime, were completely empty. My only option was Watermelon Lime, which didn’t appeal to me. A Target employee (easily visible in his red shirt) was further up the aisle stacking the shelf so I strolled over to ask him if they had any more of the lemon or lime sparkling water. He walked back with me to look at the shelf. The area where the lemon sparkling water should have been had a grey dot over the tag. He said that meant they didn’t have any more in stock. The lime just had the tag so he didn’t know whether they had any or not.
I asked when they would be getting more in and was told (politely) that he didn’t know. He then said, “But you can come back and check another time.” To which I replied with a smile, “Or I could get it from somewhere else.” He agreed with me and I left.
The employee was polite and trying to be helpful and I do not blame him, he may not have been taught to say anything different. The store’s training perhaps does not cover the topics of empty shelves, when and how deliveries come in and what a customer should do (besides making another trip) to get the product s/he wants.
Imagine if employees in your retail business were telling customers that you didn’t have the product you wanted so they should come back another time (without any idea whether or not the product would be available then).
Before the busiest times of the year are upon us, institute some training programs for your employees, ensuring that they know what to say to the customers.
A tip of the glass from me to you!