Incentivising your staff

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Motivating staff through a PoS-managed incentive scheme offers more than financial benefits for the retailer, advises Sonu Kundi, commercial director of Cromwell Business Systems.

Consumers are often surprised by how many retailers seem to put inadequate levels of effort into creating a clean, welcoming, attractive store environment staffed by welcoming, knowledgeable, articulate and enthusiastic people. Even worse than entering a tired-looking store is to be faced by a bored or tired-looking sales person unwilling to engage with customers.

When times are hard, as they certainly are now, surely it is an opportunity to ensure that the entire store experience is as good as it possibly can be? Especially when there is clear evidence that poor in-store customer service stops people doing business with high street retailers, drives them online and makes them more likely to spread negative messages far and wide. 

Refreshing the store environment may not take much more than elbow grease, paint and some creative re-arrangement of stock. Getting to grips with demotivated and disinterested staff is more challenging and encompasses a wide range of management techniques including effective leadership, team-building, training and well thought-through incentives.

There is a well-known retailer who is a master at incentivising his staff across a large number of stores, ensuring that they are always keen to make the most of every single selling opportunity and are rewarded for hitting carefully designed sales targets. Through creative thinking he has succeeded in generating a fun competitive spirit amongst his workforce within individual stores and across the chain as a whole. He understands fully that not everyone is motivated by financial rewards, so he offers a mix of monetary incentives and what could be defined as “fulfilment of dreams” (including stays in holiday homes and the opportunity to drive luxury cars). 

His techniques and methods are available to every retailer to implement. Of course, you might want to ‘downsize’ them – but your staff are likely to be just as happy with tickets to films or sporting events, discounts on products, extra holidays or time off to participate in charity events, restaurant meals, and random unplanned acts of kindness. Best of all, why not actually ask your staff what incentives they would like – chances are you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how reasonable they are and how easy they are to implement.

It is, of course, possible to set up incentive schemes and manage them on a spreadsheet, but that’s not the most efficient method of ensuring targets are set, performance is tracked, and incentives are paid where and when they are due.  Using the commission features in a comprehensive PoS system is the route to a simpler and more profitable life, and good IT will also ensure that no staff member can commit fraud – such as submitting the same claim twice for a single sale.

Many retailers are reluctant to put together incentive schemes because they fear complexity, but with good IT it’s really not rocket science to create schemes that make staff better off and the company more profitable.

It’s about incentivising sales staff to offer customers the products that give you the desired level of returns (such as accessories or add-ons) or meet other objectives such as upselling, shifting ex-display stock or graded stock, or selling extended warranties. It’s about creating a fair balance between individual staff commission and pool commission. It’s about identifying and rewarding the sales people who are making you the highest margins, and not just the ones selling the most products (you might be very surprised to see that your apparently top salesperson is actually not making you any money).

You can also incentivise staff to assist with your marketing efforts, for instance, paying 50p for every customer email address captured at the point of sale, along with permission to mail them with promotions. A few weeks of active effort by staff can result in a significant number of addresses for a bulk email campaign with vouchers and invitations to events.

The astounding success of Apple is because it is committed to delighting its customers. They have even developed an acronym about it:

•        Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome,

•        Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs,

•        Present a solution for the customer to take home today,

•        Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns,

•        End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.

Of course, not every retailer has stores full of objects of desire like Apple has – but you can go a long way towards delighting customer by having incentivised and happy staff prepared to provide ‘above and beyond’ customer service. Go on – inject some passion into your store today.

For more information about Cromwell’s services contact Sonu Kundi on 01353 650 900 or

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