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Customers, careful!

The job of retail staff should ideally be to sell and not investigate. They have to be courteous first to make the customer happy and comfortable.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2010 13:39 IST
Vinod nair

Last week I paid a visit to our fashion designers’ haven, Qutub At The Crescent, near the Qutub Minar in Delhi. It’s been really long since I had last been there and I really wanted to know how the shops were doing and what kind of merchandise they keep there now. Barring a couple of stores I visited, I must say, the store people looked at my visit to most shops with unwarranted skepticism.

It was not because they recognised who I was (well, even if they did, there was no need for those suspicious looks) but because they thought I was there to steal their designs! One lady at a store even asked me, “Are you from this industry?” to make ascertain whether I was there to steal or to buy. When I answered her query, she apologized and said this is what they are supposed to ask those who make the mistake of walking into stores like this. In another store, I saw a sign saying photography was prohibited.

It’s obvious that some of our fashion designers are still wary of people copying their designs. They ask their store managers to keep an eye on suspicious people walking into their stores to copy their designs. And the store managers, in turn, ask questions such as the one posed to me. Simple.But can copying be checked this way? I suspect not.

If I ever decide to copy their designs and replicate them and then sell them by the hundreds at cheaper prices, I would go there and buy the styles that I like (and intend to copy). I will neither walk in there to memorise the styles nor attempt to photograph them. Isn’t that a viable option? I guess it is. This surely can be done.

I guess, then the job of retail staff should ideally be to sell and not investigate. They have to be courteous first to make the customer happy and comfortable. On the contrary, most of the people, I found in many of the stores there were either hostile or nonchalant. They were either too curious or just couldn’t care less.

I think that simply won’t do. I think they should keep their suspicions aside and treat everyone who walks in with respect. Those fashion designers who ask their counter staff to spy on their walk-ins, ask all unwanted questions, put them off and send them back should refrain from doing that if the purpose is to sell.

I am not sure how many of their designs are copied or how many of them have gone after the copycats. There was a time, not so long ago, when some designers used to call me up and say their designs had been copied. But, when I started asking them as to whether they had gone after those who copied their designs legally, they stopped calling me. Only a couple of designers have so far chosen to pursue a legal route after such cases. Most of them just want it to be published in newspapers.

What really is needed is well-spoken and well-mannered sales staff to make a sale. If the customer is not treated nicely, he/she will not walk in there again. So courtesy is what they need to show when people walk into their stores. If that is not provided to the consumer, their clothes are bound to just hang on their racks.