Monday, June 06, 2011

Health & Glow

When I was younger, I absolutely hated shopping. So much so that I sometimes had my sister select my clothes and other stuff because I did not want to go shopping. Of course, this choice came with inherent danger. For, my sister seemed to select my stuff depending on how our relationship was at some particular point. So, while sis has selected some beautiful churidhars and cute tops, I have also been saddled with green-colored jeans (I am NOT kidding you) and a post-box red school bag (gosh, my friends never let me live that down).

Now that I have grown older and wiser, I do enjoy shopping from time to time. But some places, I can *always* window-shop without getting bored. This list of places includes stores which sell cosmetics. Though I don't use much beauty stuff on a regular basis, I love looking at what's available. I will admit that I have a problem knowing when to stop when buying eye-stuff - especially since I hardly ever wear eye-makeup - but on the whole, simply browsing or spending on inexpensive bargains usually keeps me happy.

I had a few stores ear-marked for cosmetics-browsing back in the US. Over here, the obvious first choice was Health & Glow.

Or so I thought till I stepped into a Health & Glow. This was when I realized that the shop was lined end-to-end with sales-people. Really. Till date, I have never seen any other store where the sales-persons outnumber customers by a ratio of 5:1.

You would think that with so many sales-persons, the service would be outstanding. Again, no. First, any product you ask for is either a) Out of stock or b) Not arrived yet or c) not available in the size you need.

If at all the store does manage to carry the product, you will get to participate in the sales-person relay. This is the game where you tell the sales-person nearest the door what you want. This person relays the product name to the next sales-person in line. And on it goes till the sales-person nearest the shelf housing the product will randomly point towards the shelf and say "It is here". At this point, you can bend/ get down on your knees while you search and try to figure out which exact rack of the shelf has the product.

While you are thus hunting for what you actually need, the sales-persons will begin the let-me-try-to-sell-you-a-product carousel. This game consists of a different sales-person stopping by every 30 seconds to ask if you need "ABC conditioner" or "XYZ face cream" or "PQR body-scrub". If you get really annoyed and answer tersely, the carousel slows down to about 1 sales-speech a minute.

What if you just want to browse? Heh. Good luck making a trip around the store without tripping over at least five sales-persons.

Really - what exactly is Health & Glow's business strategy? Always show a full store by having a shop filled with sales-people? If that's the case, the sales-persons should at least not be wearing uniforms! Or if H&G is trying to prevent theft, won't it be cheaper to tag all the products with anti-theft devices instead of paying salaries to so many people?

All that H&G has achieved is to make me quit the store as soon as I buy what I actually need because I hate being hounded while shopping besides hating feeling claustrophobic. Thus, H&G misses out on any impulse purchase that I might have made had I been allowed to browse around the store in peace. While this is good news for my wallet, I doubt this is the kind of customer-reaction H&G was going for!

Thank you H&G, for curing me of my cosmetic-browsing tendencies!


ಅಶ್ವಿನಿ/Ashwini said...

This is not the case with H&G. I've faced pathetic sales guys following you to each stack of commodities you are checking for in a supermarket. This gets me onto my nerves and there are instances that I've quit the store without making a single purchase.

They literally chase you out. Even after we mention that we are fine and find things ourselves , they stand leaving no space for a fly to pass inbetween. :(

Anita said...

I think a lot of places in India could do with a better sales force, but H&G definitely stands out.

And what was wrong with the postbox red school bag. It was Avant Garde.

Sujatha Sathya said...

well-written! and true.
i have a H&G outlet right across my house on New BEL road. but its more a landmark for ppl trying to locate my place than anything else. i go there if i absolutely must. otherwise i would rather go up/down the road than to a H&G
loved the follo lines:
""the carousel slows down to about 1 sales-speech a minute.""" (i had to luk up the word 'carousel':)
""sales-persons outnumber customers by a ratio of 5:1. "" what an observation
""participate in the sales-person relay."" haha true n to know that its that way in all outlets ...thats interesting

Deeps said...

I feel the same as you about being hounded - hate it. In the US though there are sales people who come and ask you whether they can help, they leave you alone once you say no. In India, they are always persistent, to say the least :-p. And agree about H&G, I always see more sales girls than customers in the place. No wonder my mom doesn't like to shop in that place :-p.

Archana said...

Ashwini - I really don't know which part of "I don't need help" is incomprehensible.

Sindu - "Avant Garde" - hmph x-(.

Sujatha - I think that H&G's universal customer service policy unfortunately!

Deeps - I think in India salespeople are scared that people might shoplift!

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