We Earn Money, Shop Till Our Souls Get Tired – The Never Ending Process

“Shopping and buying” in the layman’s perspective, “Purchasing” in the marketing parlance all means to give money for something we get. To be short, it is trade. Barter was one system those days to exchange goods against goods where no money and calculation came into action. For example a kg of rice was exchanged for a kg of wheat and so on. Those days have gone. Now it is all money. People started thinking big when they started earning more and more. The situation is like they purchase just because they have come to that status and sometimes just because it is possessed by their neighbors. I feel ownership of something is valued more than value of money. Books define market as, “A place where buyers and sellers meet and exchange their products and services”. Today, it has become a stage for earning money. People have become so much obsessed with shopping and exploring products. Well, it’s up to people how they look at it. Some buy just because they want to possess it, some do shopping as a hobby, relaxation, and some create a situation for them to shop and so on. It is endless.

Developing a craze towards shopping depends on the mindset as well as buying behavior of a person. Quality of goods, customer satisfaction, and seller’s attitude play a very important role in dragging customers to their shop. Generally discounts; good shopping environment, customer relationship management, value added services etc are some of the strategies/activities they perform to keep loyal customers. Well, product availability, services, variety of branded goods, assortment of products, store ambiance etc are considered very important.

Shopping is done by each one of us almost daily. We find some reason to buy something. Pens, pencils, groceries and so on. List is endless. I have seen people would write down a list do buy but when they get into the shop, they get carried away by the attractive displays, advertisements, and sometimes even the wrapper and buy the things which is not in their list. Finally they come home and say, “Oh my god, I have got this one. I forgot what I wanted. It is my mistake” and so on. In marketing parlance, it is impulse purchasing.

Well, shopping is always fun. Some plan to shop. To others, it just happens. There is one term “window shopping”. Defining it would be great. It is always cheapest way of obtaining satisfaction. It is the only shopping in which people do it with a lot of pleasure and happiness because no money gets out of the pocket. Window shopping is even more great if the shopping mall is air conditioned well perfumed with good fragrance and the store ambiance is colorful. Wow. I am sure everyone would have experienced this.

Festivals always begin with shopping. This is the only culture followed all over the world. What do we buy during festivals? Sweets, chocolates, gifts, clothes, stationeries, fruits, flowers, dress materials, junk foods etc. The list is surely endless. “Hey, come let us see what we find there, will this shop be okay for us?, where do we get branded clothes?”, are some of the questions we will be able to notice. Specialty stores earn a lot during this period. When I think of specialty stores, the word brand loyalty hits my mind. It is when a person uses only a particular brand. They do not compromise with other brands. “Somehow I want it” will be their attitude. In that case men have a lot of brands to stick on to whereas women don’t.

Basically I love shopping. I buy anything that is good and worth paying. People generally ask me, “Why did you take Retail management as an elective paper in your marketing” and this is my answer to them, “I love shopping and moreover retailing sector is coming up”. There is always one question that keeps coming in my mind. Why do people buy? The very true answer is because of the external appearance (packaging) and the considerable price. Packing plays a very important role in the sale of a product. The best example would be FMCG (Fast moving consumer goods) products. Shampoos, biscuits, chocolates, tooth pastes, cosmetics and many fall under the category. I feel impulse purchase is influenced by the packing.

I feel, targeting the kids would make any company successful. Kids are influencers in most of the families. Right from biscuits to clothes parents give them the choice. Those days the attitude towards shopping for a child was, “I have bought this for you”. Now it has changed entirely. It has now become, “see if this will suit you, if you don’t like it you choose”. Cartoons and animated wrapper does not matter. Pleasant color and good designs matter a lot.

As I mentioned earlier, I love shopping. I feel people should have the art of observing things that happen around them when they shop. Well, it is very interesting to see the product assortment, salesman’s way of responding, displays inside and outside the shop, promotion strategies followed to attract the customers, lights over the products, maintenance and so on. The joy of watching people enjoying and buying what they want cannot be expressed in short. Shopping itself is an endless topic. My idea of looking at shopping will not be the same as others. It need not be also.

I feel a salesman can create ‘n’ number of footfalls to his shop. Promotion, advertising, brand image and location contribute a lot externally but inside the shop, how the customer is treated matters a lot. In a shop, a section should not have too many salespersons. If the crowd is too much, it helps. If there are limited customers, then it irritates the customers. Clutters like repetition of requesting, delay in showing the products, lack of attention to one customer generally happen. I have seen people deciding if they should get back to the same shop or not in the billing counter itself. If they like it, they say, “This is the shop I was looking for, awesome service, great shopping experience and so on”. If they don’t like the service, even if everything is good there, “I have never had such a bad experience, they don’t have anything with them other than their salesmen and so on”. This reminds me of one saying, “One satisfied customer can bring ‘n’ number of customers”. This is “Word of mouth strategy”.

I wish to share what I enjoyed as a customer while shopping in points. I feel this is the best way I can express. Many may identify the shop itself. I list them in general.

• Advertisement according to the themes. If pink is the color of the day everything in that shop would be decorated in the same color.
• Customer relationship. They tend to send card wishing birthdays and wedding day.
• Informing us about their new collection arrived, discounts and so on through phone, sms or emails.
• Attractive displays, mainly in the jewel shops by way of inviting attention
• Lighting and display of products in to the category they belong.
• Appreciating the customers on their choice or suggesting the customers that it will suit them.
• Letting customers pick their needs.
• Entertainments inside the shop such as dressing some person like a cartoon character to amuse the kids so that their parents can shop without any trouble.
• In some shops customers are allowed to select a song of their choice by placing a pay juke box

Lots come to mind when I think of why I like a particular shopping complex or why I like shopping. As mentioned earlier, it is an endless topic. Well, thanks for reading this ‘long’ blog of mine. I started this topic long time back, but now only I have completed it. I know there are few marketing jargons which I have used in this blog. I am still not satisfied. I feel I am leaving it incomplete. I have to stop now or it will keep going. I hope to find time to write more in this area. Once again, thanks for reading. I have written what I feel with very little of marketing knowledge. Thanks once again for reading my blog…

How To Find A Great Auto Repair Shop

Don’t choose a shop just because of convenience. Once you have determined that the shop is qualified, Convenience is a plus. But only after has a good reputation and backs up their work with a good warranty. Remember that a good shop may be convenient but the most convenient shop may not necessarily be the best shop for you.

Don’t pick a shop based on “special offers”. OK, we all do it. It seems to be the market trend nowadays. You want your shop to be competitive, of course. But even more important you need to have the job done right. Unfortunately it is all too common for many shops to bring the car in the door with a loss leader and then charge a higher amount as the work progresses. This is due somewhat to the nature of the industry. But, if you see a price that seems unrealistically low it probably is. You will be better off going with a shop that gives you professional service and backs up their work. Quality will win out over low price every time. The savings will come with a longer lasting and more trouble free repair.

Don’t pick a shop just because they look like “good old boys”. Poor choice. Some of those good old boys are great. Others have never moved out of the past and can’t cope with today’s vehicles very well. Get recommendations and proof of qualifications rather than looking for a good old boy shop.

Choosing a shop based on a low “labor rate”. This is one of the worst ways to choose a shop. Price shopping for a service this way just does not make sense. There are just too many variables. Only one of those is the price. And the final price may not be even remotely related to the “labor rate”. If you need an idea of cost just ask for that and not the labor rate. If you base your buying decision on the “labor rate” you may find a shop that gives you a low rate, takes longer and charges you more for the job than you would have paid at a higher rate shop. The end result could be a shoddy job for about the same price as you could have paid for a professional one.

They can get me in right away! Oh really, then they must not be that busy. If that is so then maybe they are really not that good? Sometimes a good shop can get you in quickly. Often they are booked up for a day or two in advance due to their reputation though. This could really backfire on you if you end up in a shop that is never busy because they are doing terrible work. Getting your vehicle back soon is important. But, getting it fixed correctly is even more important. Wouldn’t you agree?

They can get it done right away. A good job takes some time. A good shop can reduce that time but they cannot eliminate it. Most people do not realize the amount of time their vehicles must be in the shop for certain jobs. Choosing a shop based primarily on this criteria is usually a mistake. Some shops will, unfortunately promise anything to get the job. That does not mean that they will necessarily deliver on that promise once the job has started.

They don’t have very many staff or support people so they can charge me less than a shop that does. Again, this reasoning is faulty. Most modern facilities have a ratio of almost one support person to each technician in the shop. This allows the technicians to do the maximum productive work without undue interruptions and distractions. Therefore the entire procedure is more efficient. With too few support people the production staff will spend way too much time doing tasks not directly related to the services or repairs on the vehicles. The end result will often be lower quality work due to interruptions and higher prices because of an inefficient business model.

My neighbor went there and he said they were great. Actually this is one part of a good plan to choose a good shop. However, before you buy into this recommendation ask a few more questions. What did your friend have done? How many times has he been there? If he had any problems how were they resolved? If he went in one time for an oil change and you need a transmission repair, there may be a problem here. Make sure the shop is qualified to do the type of work that you need. And try to find a shop where an acquaintance has been to more than once. Recommendations are an excellent way to find a good shop. Just make sure the recommendation is qualified.

They seem really nice and I feel that I can trust them. This is actually a very good sign. A feeling of trust is very important when dealing with a service or repair shop. Just be sure that this is one good component out of several. Some folks are very good at schmoozing you on the front counter. That, in itself does not mean they are a good shop. You need to take more into account than that. You need to find out if they are qualified and give you a good warranty as well as a good feeling.

Jumping around to just any shop for small jobs until you need something really important. Not a good idea at all. There are shops today that can and will take care of almost all of your vehicles needs. If you establish a good relationship with them on the smaller jobs they will be much more likely to get you in and treat you right when you need a larger job. Some shops won’t even talk to you for an emergency job unless you are already and established client of theirs. Start with an oil change to check out the shop and to help you decide if that match is right.

Get those recommendations from friends and neighbors. As I said before, just make sure they are qualified. Any shop can have a few folks that have had a bad experience or a bad attitude. However, they should be a very small minority of the total clients. Take into account the personality of the person that is giving you advice before you decide not to consider a shop that seems OK to you.

Contact some independent sources. Start with a call to or visit the websites of BCAA, the BBB or the local Chamber of Commerce for a list of member shops. The B.C. Automotive Retailers Association is another source of shops committed to customer satisfaction.

Next phone some shops from your list above and ask some questions. Call them to get a feel for how they answer the phone and how you are treated on this first contact. Tell the person that answers the phone that you are looking for a qualified shop for your vehicles. Ask if they can spare a few minutes to answer some questions. If you catch them at a busy time ask for a good time to call back.

Next, ask them what services they can provide. Ask them if they have any industry affiliations such as trade associations. Ask if they have a code of ethics and if they follow it. Ask them how many of their technicians are certified. Ask them how long their technical staff has been in the industry. Ask them how long they have been in business. What is their standard warranty for most jobs. One year is a minimum standard. Ask if they have a technical resource like Alldata or Mitchell on Demand to access service bulletins and recall information.

Evaluate the call: Were they nice or rude? Did they seem distracted when they were on the phone with you? They should be able to handle your phone call with grace. If you like their attitude and answers so far go to the next step. If not go back to your abbreviated list and start again with the shop with the next most qualifications. Keep up this process until you find a shop that feels right to you and then go on to the next step.

Visit the shop. Drive by at first and see if it looks like a place that you would want to leave your vehicles. If it passes that test, park in their lot and visit the office. Note how you are treated, the look of the office and the attitude of the staff. They should look professional and be friendly, courteous, helpful, and efficient and act like they want your business.

Look for certificates on the walls that show government certifications and other affiliations. Let them tell you a bit about themselves. Ask the history of the shop and so on if they have time. Ask if they have any handouts that would help you to decide if they could be your shop. Let them know that you are looking for a shop to take care of your vehicles needs. See how they react to that. A good shop will appreciate your research and will be glad to start a new relationship with a potential good client.

Ask if you can meet the owner or the shop manger. If they are not too busy ask for a quick tour or a look at the shop. See if it looks clean and organized. Get a general feel for the attitudes in the shop.

If the shop passed so far schedule an appointment for an oil change or other minor service.
A note of caution here: If they can’t or won’t set up an appointment for service you probably don’t want to pick them as your shop. A shop that does not set appointments usually does not focus on preventative maintenance and is more of a “breakdown shop”. This is not what you need if you are going to get the best bang for your service and repair dollar. Also, getting you in quickly without an appointment usually means that getting you back out on time with a quality job is not very likely. A well-run shop will schedule appointments and also be able to handle some minor emergencies. If they cannot get you in for an emergency they should have a contingency plan such as rental car availability or a shuttle service to your home or work to help you when you need it.

Keep your appointment. Call ahead and reschedule early if you cannot make it. A good shop will appreciate that courtesy. Make your final decision after your first appointment. They should call you up and send you some follow up information to solidify the relationship. A really good shop will ask you to fill out a questionnaire to make sure that your service was good. They will also ask you for input to help them make the business better for you and their other clients.

Your final decision. If the shop has met all the above criteria to your satisfaction reward them with your loyalty. Schedule your oil changes and other preventative maintenance services with them. You will be glad that you took the extra effort to locate a GREAT shop when you have an emergency. You won’t believe how much less stressful it can be to have your own shop that you can trust with your vehicles from now on. If the shop did not meet all of your standards or if you had a funny feeling about them you will need to start all over with step one again until you find a shop that you can make your own. Sometimes it is not just the shop itself. Occasionally you may have a personality conflict with someone at the shop. You don’t want or need to go to a shop that you feel funny about. Look around a bit until you find one that treats you like a friend.

Need The Key To Smart Shopping? Start Online!

Recall your last Shopping experience and list out the shopping traps, you got caught up with. Compare against this standard list of common shopping mistakes, shoppers tend to commit:

a) Forgetting your grocery list or shopping list, back home

b) Not sure, which are the items, you’re running short on

c) Enticed at the sight of all ‘New Arrivals’ and other displays at the store

d) Tickled by the idea of saving smart with “Huge Sales” and other such captions

e) Missed on one of the ‘Most Needed Items’

f) The “Impulsive shopping disorder”

g) Your kids running all over the store persuaded you, into purchasing a stack of unwanted stuff. Of course, you couldn’t say no to him!

h) You lost track of your shopping budget, going overboard!

i) Comparative shopping syndrome: Other shoppers give you pointers on what else you could need

j) Not so well Informed Store Assistants! Web could have been better than this

k) Long queues & waiting lines at the check counters. Time Out!!!

l) Jam-Packed parking lots, at the mall. And that extra effort, gas and the swelling bills.

Honestly, if you had committed even 3-4 out of these 12 most common shopping mistakes, it’s time you should look up to web for rescue. Don’t you agree overtime, your over indulgence robs you off the much needed cash at hand? Or else, shocks you with blown up credit card bills, at the end of every month. More often than not, the shopping trips culminate into a nightmare, with not so planned and unorganized indulgence at the shoppers end. ‘Online shopping’ on other hand is one where you still have a controlled shopping environment and as such, comparatively lesser chances of splurging & regretting, later on. Nevertheless, the disadvantages that accompany are as crucial to the shoppers. For instance: insecure online payments, home delivery concerns, mishandling of the stuff by shippers, late delivery, loss of shipment, visible differences in the item displayed online and in the shipment, received and much more.

Well, how about balancing your offline shopping with a little online planning? That means you can still evade a lot of differences, anxiety and shopping mistakes by combining a few web elements (or say tools) into your shopping activity. Make your shopping more planned, organized, more manageable and more fun. This is how you could do it:

1) Prepare a list of items you need to shop for. I knew you always did! But this time, I want you to do it over the web. Go online, open up a spreadsheet or a word document and quickly list out your items. Print and take them along. Follow closely, with the requirements you have listed out.

2) Shop online with smart gadgets and carts. This means, you can directly log on to your favorite stores like HomeGrocers.com or TraderJoe or any other store, you like for grocery and other related shopping. And simply, create your online shopping lists. Print them and carry it over wherever you go.

3) Try Shopping 2.0! In case, you don’t have a preference for stores and wish to shop at a combination of stores offline or online, use web applications and shopping tools like ‘Shopping List’ at Infodoro.com or Froogle at Google.com. These web based shopping lists could be created, managed, stored and even accessed online. This is the biggest advantage, if you had been forgetting your shopping lists back home. You can login and access it anytime and even over your cell phone.

4) Creating a shopping list not always means, only jotting down all items you need. This is anyways what your brain can easily store, process and recall. What could still slip off would be stuff like quantities, brands and the stores, from where you need to get an item. Utilize shopping tools like Shopping Lists and Froogle, to create an organized shopping list with items, item descriptions, stores, quantities, categories and more details you wish to capture.

5) Shopping Smart is not always about faster and organized shopping but also saving all the dollars you can. You got it right! I was coming to coupons, you could always redeem for items at the stores you shop at. After all, why end up paying more when you know you could save with coupons. Just make sure you are on the look out for coupons from your previous purchases and that in the newspapers and do carry them along when you go shopping. There would still be many, who will forget to carry them or completely miss on making use of it, while standing at the counters and making payments. The solution is to store all your coupons in a Shopping bag, no matter whenever you get your hands on one. Make it a ritual and keep doing it always. This way, next time you go shopping, you won’t have to at least forget them back home. And to remind you of the coupons when paying off the bills, simply list coupons or add coupons to your online shopping list. That means, indicate ‘Coupons’ next to items you have it available for. And do keep an eye on your ‘Shopping list’ when paying off the bills. This way, you’ll definitely utilize your Coupons and save a few dollars. Web applications like ‘ShoppingList’ at Infodoro and even online shopping stores, have a section for coupons on their online shopping list tool and shopping carts.

6) Prioritize your Items as ‘Most needed’ to have a quick list of the immediately needed items. Again, web and a few desktop shopping applications help you filter your shopping lists by ‘Most needed’ items like for Coupons. Use these web applications and you’ll realize the shift in your overall shopping behavior besides purchasing & spending patterns.

7) Make Specialized Shopping lists sorted by Category and Stores. To make you shopping chore more manageable, you can always consider staying focused. You can split your list of items and share some of your shopping tasks with your family members, children or spouse. Web applications allow for sorting of your shopping lists and segregating of items by stores and categories in ascending or descending orders. Using web, you can forward one half of your shopping list to your spouse to let her pick up stuff from a store next to her work place and you can take care of the other half with stores, on your way back home. This way, you save time and don’t have to struggle with parking problems, at all stores you stop by. You can also sort your lists by item categories and decide what are you good at & what could be taken care of by your children or partner. Suppose, you can be quick and more decisive at grocery shopping whereas someone else in your family can do well at merchandise shopping et cetra. Splitting your list by categories and sharing some of your shopping tasks with others, would also save you a lot of time, gas, efforts and struggle with the not so supportive store staff.

By integrating a little web usage in planning for your shopping tasks, you can easily spare yourself a lot of time, efforts, gas and the mistakes that you keep repeating always. What’s the harm, if you could optimize your personal time, with a little planning online? Use web to your advantage, be it concerning tasks like shopping or planning shopping! And next time, you come across a baffled shopper, don’t forget to offer tips and tricks that could make him smarter too.

“Enjoy Smart Shopping with Shopping 2.0, setting in!”