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Sales Specialists Trained in Japan

Posted February. 13, 2006 06:26,   


Shinsegae Department Store salespersons went all the way to Japan in order to learn from “masters of sales” there. Upon their return, they said that they were more impressed by Japanese salespersons’ thoughtful consideration for customers than by their sales skills.

Specialists Required-

On February 9, in a building nearby a subway station in Tokyo, Jieko Godama, who has worked for 30 years in retail clothing sales and who is a “body fitter (a specialist in clothing sales and repair), spent seven hours explaining to clothing salespersons from Shinsegae about how to choose clothes and repair them.

“Even if you find it difficult to choose clothes that fit your customers well, you have to get customers what they want even by repairing clothes,” Godama said. “Salespersons should be equipped with clothing repair skills.”

Last August, Shinsegae placed “fashion advisors” throughout its sales specialist system. They are not employees of Shinsegae. They are salespersons of clothing brands that have shops in Shinsegae. Shinsegae sent them to Japan for training with the goal of nurturing specialists in mind.

On the same day, I visited the office of Michiko Gubota, a “shoe fitter” (a specialist in shoes). While I was there, shoe fitters from Shinsegae who were listening to a lecture there stepped forward to take measurements of my feet.

Shin Chang-yong, a shoe fitter at “Elegance,” a shoe shop in Shinsegae, took a close look at my feet, including their length, breadth, and circumference, and the hardened skin on my heels.

“It is a classic example of a customer choosing his shoes without knowing the shape, size, and condition of his feet,” He said. “Shoes with round-shaped fronts are suitable for you.”

Gubota said, “Not all salespersons need to become specialists, such as shoe fitters or fashion advisors. But if you want to hear ‘thank you’ from customers, you have to become a specialist who will even take the shapes of his or her customers’ toes into consideration.”

Pride in Their Work-

“Salespersons at department stores in Japan even learned sign language for deaf customers. I was surprised to learn how much pride they have in their jobs,” said Roh Jeong-hee, a salesperson at “Kim Yeon Ju,” a designer brand, in Shinsegae Department Store’s main branch in Chungmuro.

“Through this opportunity, my pride in my job has also grown. I am not a mere sales clerk. I am a fashion advisor; I am a sales specialist,” said Mo Mi-hwan at “L’Ecole De Paris,” a clothing brand in Shinsegae Department Store’s Gwangju branch.

Shinsegae salespersons said in unison that by training in Japan, where the sales specialist system is well established, they learned how to take care of their customers’ needs and gained pride in their jobs, rather than mere sales knowledge.

Shinsegae’s sales specialists number about 80 in total. Recently, Lotte and Hyundai, Shinsegae’s competitors, have been considering introducing sales specialist systems.