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Part four: NZ Retail celebrates its 70th anniversary

NZ Retail started life on February 20, 1948 as The Retailer of N.Z. As it is today, it was the official publication of the NZ Retailers’ Federation, now known as Retail NZ. In part four we hear from Diane Stephenson, director of Modes, and John and Barbara Upton, founders of Scarpa.

February 19, 2019 | News

Diane Stephenson, director Modes

When I started in Newmarket, there was Smith and Caughey’s, Saks, 3 Bears and ourselves. The shops shut at midday Saturday, and of course there was no Sunday trading. Your clients were mostly people who lived and worked in the area or drove an hour or two to get to you. Now, your customer could be hopping on a Jetstar flight from Wellington, the South Island or emailing you from London.

Nowadays the customers expect service, alterations to be done while they wait and your staff to speak three languages while acting as a stylist, a counsellor and a security guard.

Retail is not for the faint heart but the creative aspect and the fact that you are reinventing yourself just about every week means that it is never boring. This is probably why I'm still here and so are many of my staff.

John Upton, co-founder Scarpa

Computers, technology and the internet have all made retail shopping easier, more efficient and enjoyable. The woman that loves shoes can, of course, shop online, but the store visit, the whole experience of trying on beautiful shoes instore with trained knowledgeable sales consultant is very hard to beat.

Why did you choose your profession?
Retailing is a fun business, a challenging and a rewarding business, but essentially you need to source beautiful high quality product that [shoppers] can’t say no to!

I chose to become a retailer essentially because I like making people happy, whether that be in a simple greeting, a feeling, a comfortable pair of shoes or an incredibly stylish pair of shoes. The young retailers of today and tomorrow still need this quality or criteria of thinking of the customers first.

If young retailers now have this front of mind at all times then happiness and success is assured.

Barbara Upton, co-founder Scarpa

Since I began working in retail, the biggest change has been the introduction of the computer world, which has enabled the business owner to define both the customer, the staff, and the products they are selling.
Many of today’s customers have already searched the website and know before they walk into your store, what is in fashion, what is available, and exactly what they want to include in this seasons wardrobe.

However, with shoes, the most important thing is the fitting of a shoe, so a salesperson with product knowledge and experience, and an ability to connect successfully with the customer, are still the greatest asset to your business success.

What is the best compliment you have ever received from a customer? What is the rudest thing a customer has ever said to you?

The customer is the customer and the customer is always right! There will always be a rude one, but  for every bad customer there are hundreds more who are appreciative of the effort gone into making a sale complete.
The basic rule of selling is listening to, and discovering exactly what the customer is searching for. From there, the selling begins, and if you can fulfil the request, then the compliments will follow.

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