Woooahhh! It’s been almost two years now since I joined the world of laptop merchandising. Let’s say, I’m not yet an expert in this field but hey! I almost knew how to read people’s mind and behavior especially when it comes to their buying patterns. Here in Dubai, selling laptops is not an easy task. Yeah! Correct! Because of underlying factors such as superior’s pressure, market pressure, customer’s pressure, competitor’s pressure, security pressure, price pressure, laptop configuration pressure, innovation pressure, time pressure, dream pressure, religion pressure, culture pressure, relationship pressure and almost all kind of pressures that you can ever think of and of course don’t forget the forces stated in Porter’s Five Forces Model such as threat of new entrants, threat of substitute products or services, bargaining power of customers (buyers), bargaining power of suppliers, and intensity of competitive rivalry plus the 5Ps in marketing such as price, product, people, place and promotion. Damn! Too much my friend!
Before I joined Toshiba as laptop merchandiser, I never know that I have a talent in reading customer’s mind and controlling their buying decision. Yeah! Same as Professor X or Jean Grey of X-Men. But even though you can read their minds, don’t ever try to fool or confused them. They are not idiots. Though there are still some. Hahaha! Just Kidding! But the real thing in merchandising is to sell honestly. Be honest. You don’t actually need to tell everything that you know but at least don’t tell lies. And of course believe in your products. Anyway, if it’s Toshiba, you don’t need to worry a lot. “Trust Toshiba.”
In laptop business, customers play the most significant part. In essence, these customers are the main core and the responsible element in organization’s profit. Without them, there is no business. Speaking of customers, it is very vital that organizations like Toshiba to know the WHs of their customers (who, what, where and why). In simple words, let us just do the segmentation of laptop customers based on customer’s types.
Customers can be of following types:
Die Hard Toshiba Fanatic- These are very rare types of people but promote more sales and profit as compared to other customers as these are the ones which are completely satisfied. So for other laptop merchandiser, beware to brainwash these type of customers. Because when they “Trust Toshiba”, you cannot do anything about it as they will only eat with Toshiba, sleep with Toshiba, and die with Toshiba. If you try to say bad things about Toshiba they will screw you like anything. Thus, for Toshiba merchandiser, these customers revisit the shop over times hence it is crucial to interact and keep in touch with them on a regular basis and invest much time and effort with them. Since these customers really love Toshiba, they want individual attention and that demands polite and respectful responses from the merchandiser. I love these people.
Freebies and Discount Monsters- these type of customers are also frequent visitors especially in Hypermarkets but they are only become part of business when offered with discounts or they buy only low cost laptop products. This type of customer requires lots of patience for the merchandiser as they will ask more on the freebies and discounts rather that laptop configuration and benefits of it. Their precious taglines, “What are the offers?”, “Do you have free carry case mouse, headset, etc?”, “Only 100 gift voucher!? Come on man, add more”, “where is your supervisor, please ask to add something more?” The more the discount is, the more they will tend to buy your product. With these costumers, you will need to consider buying some stress tabs.
Impulsive Customers (Richie Rich Guys) - These customers are difficult to convince as they want to do the business in urge or caprice. But normally, you don’t need to convince them, they are just pointing what they want and just give it to them. But to convert them into your product, that is another story. They don’t have any specific item into their product list but urge to buy what they find good and productive at that point of time. Handling these customers is a challenge as they are not particularly looking for a product and want the supplier to display all the useful products they have in their tally in front of them so that they can buy what they like from that display. In my experience, it is very rare to find this breed, I mean these type of people. I remember one time, one of my customer said, “To tell you honestly, I just went here to buy some magazine, but hey I turned in buying your expensive machine. Well, this is impressive.” Yeah, if impulsive customers are treated accordingly then there is high probability that these customers could be a responsible for high percentage of selling.
Need Based Customers (Examination Type of Customers) - These customers are product specific and only tend to buy items only to which they are habitual or have a specific need for them. These are frequent customers but do not become a part of buying most of the times so it is difficult to satisfy them. These type of customers will ask you a lot of questions. Some questions are necessary but most of the time they are not. As a merchandiser, it is like you are answering an examination paper. Moreover, these customers will also check the laptop you were showing thoroughly. In most cases, they are lifting the laptop, checking the ports (HDMI, USB, VGA), DVD Drive. It is like checking the laptop’s gender, “Is this male or female”. After that, they will also bother you asking about the weight of the laptop and battery. And sometimes, they will ask you who the inventor of battery is. Whooaahhh, nice question. Though, these customers should be handled positively by showing them ways and reasons to switch to other similar products and brands and initiating them to buy these. These customers could possibly be lost if not tackled efficiently with positive interaction.
Wandering Customers (“Who wants to be a millionaire” type of customers) - These are the least profitable customers as sometimes they themselves are not sure what to buy. Similar to the game show, “Who wants to be a millionaire”, they will use all the lifelines that they have. First lifeline, “ask the audience”. They will ask all the people around them, such as you, their friend, other merchandiser, salesman, security guard, supervisor, managers and even other customers just to make sure that they are buying the right thing. But despite of that, they will not buy yet. They need to use the second lifeline, “Phone a friend”. In my experience, most of these people are calling people from different parts of the globe. They are in Dubai, but they will call people in India, Pakistan, Philippines or maybe people from the moon or Pluto and Jupiter. After such expensive conversation over the phone, they are still not yet convinced. Then, as a merchandiser or game master, you have to give the last lifeline, “50-50”. Just let them choose between your products, make sure that you will offer only 2 products so they will not go for more options and they are now ready for 1 million jackpot. Hahaha! Seriously, these customers normally investigate the features of most prominent products in the market but do not buy any of those or show least interest in buying. To grab such customers they should be properly informed about the various positive features of the products so that they develop a sense of interest.
At the end of the day, an organization should always focus on loyal customers and should expand or multiply the product range to leverage impulsive customers. For other types of customers strategies should be renovated and enhanced for turning out these customers to satisfy their needs and modify these types of customers to let them fall under loyal and impulsive category.
To all my colleagues, Happy Selling!