Thursday, September 21, 2006

Know What You Sell

What does it take to work in a specialist store? Any kind, I’m not fussy here. I saw recently that a local bookstore was hiring, and part of the notice in the window read “Applicants should have a love of books and reading”. Seems fair to me. If you’re working in a book store, you should enjoy reading. Similarly, if you’re working in a leisure centre, you should enjoy swimming, or working out in some way. People working in a music store should have an interest in music. This all goes without saying. I thought.

I went in this week to pre-order my Wii in a local computer game specialist store. While there I spoke to the two females behind the counter about the machine and it’s possibilities. One of the two was the manager, by the way. Neither had a clue about the new console! They were surprised when I explained about the unusual controller design and the motion sensor technology. The manager of a computer game specialist store didn’t know about the new console being released for Christmas by the one of the Big Three! I was... well... amazed! I mean, the Wii has been getting more coverage over the last few months than any of the consoles, if only for its crazy, crazy risks to reach a wider customer base!

Not that that will stop me buying my Wii there. There are three places in Cork I would even consider buying a console. Two are specialist stores from different chains and one is part of a large toy store chain. There is also HMV and Virgin, but I don’t usually buy consoles from them as they rarely have very good opening offers. So that leaves me with the three I’ve previously mentioned. The toy store is a possibility, but they can’t guarantee an adequate supply of the machines to meet orders. The two specialist stores support two very different strategies regarding employment. The previously mentioned one employs lots of pretty girls in a “car show” kind of way, that look good selling stuff, and lonely geeks (not me, thank you very much!) like talking to them as it’s the only chance they get. The other one employs said geeks, who know just as much about computer games as the customers, and are happy to debate the pros and cons of one console versus another.

So which strategy is better? Pretty, girls who only have a cursory knowledge of the product, or people who can discuss the product with confidence and almost (sometimes only) geek-like detail? Appealing dimensions or knowing the consoles dimensions?

I shop in the first one. The one with the pretty girls. It’s a nicer, cleaner, brighter store. The offers are generally better. And yes, it has pretty girls. So sue me. I’m a red-blooded male. Though I am also one that is happily engaged, so... um... you know... don’t tell Claire!


Cathal said...

The pretty girls get me everytime too. Booth babes were banned from E3 and reduced my interest in it about threefold.

Weefz said...

Well, there's something to be said for hiring managers with good business sense rather than a passion for games. She should bloody well hire staff that are clued up though.

I can't resist walking into the pretty shops but in the end I always just order from They're sooo much cheaper.

Bob said...

If this manager has good business sense, surely she'd have some idea as to what's going on in the industry she's working in. Unless she's only there to make the store run and so probably only knows things about the industry that head office tells her.
(who knows nothing about women's fashion)

Denis said...

The problem is, this manager spends a lot of her time on the shop floor, working till, restocking shelves, all the stuff the other staff do. Surely she, and the others for that matter should know about the products they are selling, as well as the ones coming for the Christmas season. They all get asked regularly enough by clueless parents buying for kids.

Heck I get asked regularly enough, and I don't even work there. Though I am in enough that some people might not know that!

cathal said...