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KBzine: the original kitchen and bathroom industry e-newssince 2002
28th January 2021


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With the UK High Street having posted its worst August performance for three years and 50,000 retail jobs already lost this year because of people's apparent preference for buying online, the Federation of Small Businesses is calling for a series of clever measures to give our traditional way of shopping a better chance of survival. As well as the added costs local shops have to pay for rates and rents, the FSB says they also suffer because of the high cost of parking, poor infrastructure, potholes and the loss of banking services.

I agree something needs to be done to stop the rot - and soon, too. And being selfish, while we can research and perhaps enjoy lower prices online, there's nothing like real 'hands on' experience and human contact, is there?

My friends were in Homebase, South Wimbledon, a couple of weeks back; waiting for a staff member to check something out. As I joined them one said: "If all retail staff were like that, we wouldn't be seeing so many stores closing." I knew who they were talking about... the same chap who'd called out cheerily when my daughter and I wandered into the paint aisle the previous week: "Good morning ladies - can I be of any help to you?" We didn't think he could, but of course later we availed ourselves of his product expertise with regard to paint and many other items too. We shopped there twice more because we were confident we'd be advised by someone who knew what he was talking about and once he even finished his lunchbreak early as he'd seen us and knew we'd need his help.

During another visit, no-one was about so we tried customer services. "You should ask Andy," the assistant said. "I'll call him." Naturally, he came up trumps. He knows the stock inside out - and where to find it. He gave us advice that in cases saved us money, but alongside that he encouraged us to visit more often and to buy more whenever we did. It's not often I'm so impressed that I'll do this, but will someone please give Andy Sloan a job? He's been at Homebase for 16 years and his store is closing in a few weeks. And great as he is on the shop floor, he should really be training and managing other staff to be just like him.

Online shopping or service 'Andy style'? It's a no-brainer. Believe me, improving the in-store experience can really improve the bottom line!




Jan Hobbs



21st September 2018

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