My son and I walked into a plush Just do it! store inside one of the largest shopping centers in Bangalore. I wanted to buy a pair of trail running shoes.
The young storekeeper gave a smile and took us closer to the brand section which read “Running“.
Storekeeper: “How can I help you, Sir?”
Me: “Hi, I’m looking for a trail running shoes”
Storekeeper: “Yes sir, all these are running shoes, and all of them are for trials”
Me: confused, “trials? sorry trail shoes..”
Storekeeper: “yes, all models are for you to do trials”
Who said shopping for men is delightful….
Me: “T..R..A…I…L… Trail running… I need a pair of shoes to run on dirt trail and mud roads.”
Storekeeper: “You tell me your foot size sir, I’ll get you a pair, for trials…you can even run, jump or walk inside the store”
I decided to take the blame; I was disappointed as well as frustrated for not able to communicate well and concluded that I may not get what I wanted. I randomly looked around to see if I could spot a trail running shoes myself. Without any luck, my son and I moved to another international brand store adjacent to this shop.
The “impossible is nothing” sign in front of the second shop boosted my confidence to find a good pair of trail running shoes.
Me: “I would like to buy a pair of Trail Running shoes” and I also repeated the same in Kannada
Storekeeper: “Which training sir, gym, fitness, football?”
Me: “TRAIL running shoes” with a stress on TRAIL
The guy nodded his head (gosh! never realized later, that it was the typical Indian way of saying I don’t know).
He took us closer to the brand rack and picked a road running shoes, and said “Sir, this is a good one”
Me: “Why this is a good one?”
Storekeeper: “Sole is nice, lightweight, you can run faster and this is the latest technology”
Me: “What is so special about the latest technology, and what about my need to run on trails?”
Storekeeper: “Sir! this is the hot selling model and every runner buys this”
Storekeeper: “We also have a discount on this sir”
Storekeeper: “Do you like this color – we also have another color available in the same model”
He was going on and on… not quite connecting with my needs.
My son (I was able to find him unable to control the inappropriate laughter) and I looked at each other with a grin on our faces. I politely thanked the salesman and left the store with empty hands.
They say trail running is filled with surprises and mysteries and I have learnt that even buying trail running shoes also can take you to a mysterious wold.
Are you shopping for running shoes in branded stores in Bengaluru? God save the trail runners 😉
Running is actually a simple sport. But interestingly, (read it as unfortunately :)) it has become a very technical sport for someone like me who really like the complex side of it. Whenever I go shopping for a sports product, I really want to experience something unique, every single time.
What do I expect from the salesmen in a branded shoe shop?
I certainly expect this man to be in a sports attire, have adequate knowledge about the sport, the products displayed, the company and its products. Apart from this he must bring passion, he should know about his customers and their requirements very well to meet their expectations. In addition, the salesmen should be able to provide a comparison of similar products and also talk about why their products are superior than their competitor products. The best case is when the salesman engages in the local sports or running community and knows a lot about it. Finally, honesty! if he can’t find what I wanted, its better to say a sorry!.
Alright, I had found a salesman with all the above qualities, Will I still buy a perfect pair of shoes?
Even if the salesman could convince me, I may not buy a perfect pair of shoes. But, I’ll be certainly not walk away with a bad pair of shoes. However, Having such knowledgeable salesmen in branded stores can not only upkeep the brand value but will certainly satisfy the so-called ‘technical’ customers like me, who really look for few things that are beyond what is visible in the display racks.
Ok, the branded stores do not have such salesmen, so what, they still sell and make millions?
The biggest put off for me is when I find the so-called international brand stores keep inexperienced staff members who really do not possess the desired knowledge about the sports the brand is associated with, or understand the needs of their customers, and finally, do not know the technical specifications of the product that they sell.
In short, they don’t bring in the passion and the inquisitiveness to learn from the experience, to play the role of good salesmen in that setup. This instantly can kill the brand value and also disappoint the customers.
do the product makers really worry about these important aspects?
do they really take efforts in teaching the importance of passion and imparting the right product knowledge to the salesmen who represent their brand?
do they only depend on the advertisements and product reviews online to drive their sales?