4 Employee Behaviours that Destroy Your Retail Business

Posted on December 4, 2019 by Michael Benarroch

4 Employee Behaviours that Destroy Your Retail Business

Posted on December 4, 2019 by Michael Benarroch

For many retailers, employee behaviours are key to conversion rates. What happens when certain behaviours stunt your ability to increase those rates?

As a retailer, you have to focus on converting store visitors into customers. Knowing who is walking into your store, and how many customers are purchasing, helps you determine the health of your brick and mortar – especially given more than 40% of American shoppers prefer to buy online. But that also means 60% are purchasing in-store, and you have to work hard to keep those customers coming back. This is the reason why employee behaviours are relevant.

Part of what keeps customers coming back to your store is their experience, but key employee behaviours can have negative effects on that experience, preventing your conversion rates from increasing and having a lasting impact on your business. After all, your employees are either your best asset or your greatest weakness.

The key is to create balance, ensuring your retail teams operate on a level ‘playing field’ so that you can provide the best customer experience possible by exceeding customer expectations. Let’s dive into the four key employee behaviours you can optimize to provide that stellar experience

Too much product knowledge, or not enough?

Your customers perform a lot of research into the products they buy, which means salespeople have to have a solid understanding of all product lines to offer customers a valuable shopping experience. But there’s a fine line between knowing your product and alienating your consumers. 

Too much product knowledge, and a sales representative can come across as arrogant and unhelpful, but too little knowledge can signal a lack of competency to customers that results in decreased trust in and loyalty with a brand.  

Because product knowledge is an important aspect of your retail team’s ability to sell and provide a positive shopping experience, they have to understand the products and be trained on how to sell them. The key is to create a happy medium where sales reps have the knowledge they need to provide valuable assistance without alienating customers through language, attitude and a lack of product awareness. 

Sales reps can, for example, take a rapport approach – one which allows them to put their product knowledge to work in a way that starts a conversation with customers as opposed to preaching their expertise and talking at or down to shoppers. By taking a moment to understand what the customer needs, and the knowledge they already have, retail sales reps can better provide service that helps customers rather than push them away. 
Curious as to how you can implement this rapport-based approach? Apple’s customer support strategy is the perfect starting point to assuring the product knowledge your teams have is put to work in a way that benefits sales and the customer’s experience

What’s the deal with employee appearance?

Your employees have to align with your brand’s values, but beyond culture and mission, the way your employees present themselves can have a lasting and sometimes negative influence on your customer experience. 

There’s a fine line between what works and what doesn’t when it comes to employee appearance in the retail space. Similar to product knowledge, an employee’s appearance at work can quickly distance them from your brand’s values. If employees put too little effort into personal hygiene and appearance, customers won’t turn to them for help, and it signals to shoppers that your teams don’t take your brand seriously. That’s because your employees are a direct reflection of your brand. 

On the flip side, employees that don’t mirror the values of your customers can quickly alienate them. Teen fashion brands like Hollister, for example, staff their retail stores with teens, just as coffee shops typically have millennial employees and beauty retailers employ makeup artists. When employees don’t reflect the brand, customers not only feel uncomfortable but can’t relate to your teams, which means they won’t relate to your brand.      

You probably wouldn’t go to a tattoo studio where none of the artists are tattooed, or visit a high-end menswear store where the employees don’t reflect the luxury of the brand. It’s not only about presentability, but hiring the right people who reflect your business.  

Understanding how you want your customers to feel when interfacing with your employees will allow you to better staff your store with people who reflect that feeling and with whom customers can relate.

Diversity matters, and not just to your customers

Your customers are diverse, so your retail workforce should be, too. When it isn’t, customers can easily feel turned off, as your brand won’t resonate with their own values, needs or desired shopping experiences. 

Diversity isn’t just limited to culturally or racially diverse teams. It includes gender, age, sex and disability, and you have to take into account a diverse range of employees that customers can identify with and relate to. 

When you place too heavy of a focus on diversity, it can be perceived as tokenism – the idea of being diverse just for the sake of it, or because you ‘have’ to be. But not enough diversity will make customers feel that your brand isn’t meant for or doesn’t cater to them. The biggest benefit of hiring a diverse retail team is representing your consumer through your teams so they can connect with your brand and feel empowered to buy.

No Training, no processes, no purchase

You’ll have employees who will do what they want when it comes to sales and customer interaction, which poses a risk to both the customer experience and your conversion rate. Others will do exactly as their told, never straying far from procedure or standard practices. And while that may sound ideal, those employees can feel distrusting of management or unempowered in their roles. 

In both scenarios, customers suffer because they don’t receive the shopping experience they expect and the kind of experience your brand hopes to provide. That means more customers walking in and out of your store without buying. 

The answer to fixing all of this lies in your SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) and empowering your employees to do right by the customer. Your SOP will help guide employee behaviours and align teams with the brand. But you should also empower your employees to ‘break the rules’ when it benefits the customer and improves their experience in-store.


You’re not alone – most retailers face the same challenges in ensuring their retail employees align with their brands to achieve that happy medium where employees provide a stellar custom experience and represent the brand well. If you’re interested in taking your retail store to the next level and increasing your conversion rates, we can help. Contact our team today to explore all of our retail services and discover our retail words of wisdom.