Words by

Eliza Sholly

If you’ve ever worked in retail, you know the inundating frustration that comes with a sassy consumer. In fact, being a retail worker has taught us more about humans than any psychology class ever did. However, in a traditional shopping experience, there is a clear hierarchy that exists between the retail worker and the retail customer. Or so we thought.

A recent survey has revealed that a massive 73 per cent of consumers feel more knowledgeable than the store associates serving them. They think that they are more informed about the products and services than the worker themselves.

Say what.

Of the 1000 Australian shoppers surveyed, the majority acknowledged the significance of the retail assistant in achieving a positive shopping experience.

However, 5 per cent of people denied their importance at all. This is despite the fact that retail assistants are there to check stock availability, provide product advice and make assurances that yes, you do look like Beyonce in that dress.

Interestingly, 63 per cent declared that they would interact more with a store assistant if they created a more tailored experience. What that means exactly, we’re not sure.

The company that collated the statistics, Manhattan Associate, indicated that a positive customer experience is more important than ever.

"Consumers have come to rely on their own technology-assisted resourcefulness to make more informed purchase decisions, which makes the store assistant look increasingly redundant when they aren’t equipped with the same. Retailers also need to ensure assistants have the right skills to engage with customers - both soft people skills and specific technology skills to deliver a new level of personal experience," said associate Raghav Sibal.

The study revealed a number of other interesting findings, one being that 45 per cent of consumers would share personal information in exchange for a discount. It also unveiled that three in four consumers shop in-store rather than online, because they like to touch and feel the products they are purchasing.

While everyone has their own opinion regarding how hands-on they like their retail assistant to be, there is no denying their necessity in the shopping process. Not only do they act like a second mother, cleaning up your mess and helping you when you just aren’t sure about something, but they are also just so goddamn polite and friendly all the time. I could write a whole article on the subject. Oh wait, we have.  

So may I raise a glass to the retail worker, the unsung heroes of our generation. 


Sara D'Ambrosio

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