My shoe career started on the retail sales floor at Nine West. Why shoes? At that time, selling shoes paid commissions. I was driven by a financial need to pay rent while in college, so my choice of work consisted of hustling the sales floor like no tomorrow.

A few weeks ago, I headed to Nordstrom to do some market research. While shopping, I followed a few ladies to see what they picked up, listened in on their conversations, and even dared to sell some shoes (yeah Nordstrom you owe me a commission now!).

I noticed that when the ladies asked for their size, the salesperson returned with just one box. I looked around and saw several customers with A shoe box in front of them. I wondered, “What happened to the 3 pair presentation as Nine West called it or the 4 pair rule at Nordstrom?” (I think that is what they called it, and yeah, I worked there too) The one they asked for, an additional size (if the sizing was off), an alternate shoe in case they didn’t like the one they chose, and a surprise shoe that could lead to another sale. During my shoe selling days we were bringing 3 to 5 pairs of shoes per customer so we could create multiple sales. I remember the sales girls at Nine West got very competitive and wouldn’t dare to bring out one shoe. Your manager sure as hell wouldn’t let you leave the stockroom with just one box, and if you did, you were sure to hear about it.

After my Nordstrom one shoe box selling sighting, I became attentive to this onesie sale, and noticed other stores such as Nine West, Macy’s, Bloomie’s and Barney’s do the same.  A few salespeople had multiple shoes, but it was rare. Maybe I got them on their off days??

I asked myself, “What happened to the art of selling shoes?” Do sales associates not care about their business, and are out to just make a quick buck? Wouldn’t these sales associates want to make more? Even more so, when you’re hustling, and in the zone of selling, the days seem to go by a lot faster! Are retailers not encouraging this technique anymore? Are customers today so different they don’t want you to bring out several shoes? Ok, enough of my rant!

I actually get perturbed when I shop and customer service is non-existent. I would rather go online shopping than deal with a sales associate who can’t sell me a shoe, or have knowledge about brands, fit, sizing, etc. I feel it’s just about A Sale, rather than getting to know your customer, build a relationship, and finding out their needs and wants. Maybe I know too much about shoes, and my expectations are too high? If only online shopping had a 3 pair presentation…Hmmm, that’s an idea…

What are your thoughts on the art of selling shoes?

Photo Source: Drawing by me