Retailers invest millions in sales prevention

Posted: Thursday 27th September 2012 in Retail Strategy, Thought Leadership.

No, not a typo, I mean SALES prevention.

Retailers invest millions in sales prevention

More than ever retailers are developing and investing in sales prevention strategies through the Law of Unforeseen Consequence. Loss prevention, efficiency improvements, poorly executed IT and marketing plans and a lack of joined up thinking combine to drive customers away.

And no amount of number crunching shows that up in the weekly trading meeting.

Here is my favourite recipe for Preventing Sales;


  1. Stifle new ideas before they get a foothold, so make sure you have at least a couple of influential blockers in the decision making process early on. They need to be subtle though. Don’t experiment and trial things, act solely on instinct
  2. Next, make sure the organisation is organised and operates in silos. Make sure KPI’s conflict, targeting buyers on intake margin, stores on sales, logistics on stock levels and distribution on cost should do it. On no account measure customer satisfaction or marketing effectiveness.
  3. Make sure you have an up to date list of external factors that mess up sales on hand to prevent any real questions being asked about performance. Weather is always a favourite, the economy, roadworks, sports events, re-fits all work and this year’s Golden Egg, the Olympics of course. If all else fails produce so much data that no-one can see the wood for the trees
  4. Moving on, implement some Trojan Horse projects. Self- checkout is a must, pretend it is to improve the customer experience when the business case is made solely on better space utilisation and labour cost. Never mind the terrifying ordeal customers reluctantly go through trying to use them, especially when they try to buy anything age restricted or without a barcode. Make sure they breakdown a lot too. Just think of the savings.
  5. Now getting to the checkout assumes the customer has found the product and it is in stock. Just in case the mis-aligned KPI’s haven’t taken care of that, let’s put a security tag on it or better still, lock it in a case or put a dummy model on display. My personal favourite are displays of PC monitors that can’t be turned on and headphones you can’t listen to. The security tags work best in fashion and footwear to prevent people trying things on. Still, just look at those shrinkage figures coming down, shame about the sales though. Must be the weather again…..
  6. For the finishing touch in store, make sure staff are not trained in the products they are selling and don’t really like helping people too much. Better still, drive down those labour costs a bit more and don’t have enough staff in the first place. Should really boost morale too amongst the survivors.
  7. Moving into the digital world prevents even more opportunities. Firstly, make sure stores and the eCommerce teams see each other as rivals and online marketing drives people to the site and traditional marketing to stores. Confusion is the key here.
  8. Treat customers like criminals when they try to checkout and make it as frustrating as possible. This is almost your last chance to prevent that sale!
  9. If all else fails only deliver when they are at work and charge a fortune for any other convenient time. Then don’t turn up or answer the phone (especially during the evening or at weekends when they want to call you).
  10. Finally, on the social media side encourage feedback. Then ignore it. Carpet bomb people with junk mail and e-mail and if they do visit your site re-target them like there is no tomorrow. That should turn them off the brand altogether.


So that’s how to prevent sales on a grand scale. Any of that sound familiar? What is your sales prevention strategy?

Alternatively, treat customers like people, not numbers and think like a customer. If retailers did that how many of the points above would ever see the light of day?

Ian Woosey

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