TAKE A TOWN: Maidstone

Maidstone

The ERT mystery shopping team has been out and about in Maidstone to check up on the sales skills of electrical retailers across the county town of Kent…

 

 

 

 

 

Home Media, Maidstone

Home Media, Union Street
THIS store was in a prominent location on Union Street, just off the town centre. I was going there to look at a multi-room system and Simon, who was standing outside, welcomed me in and asked if I needed any help.
I told him that I had read about Sonos in various magazines, however, he suggested that I look at products from the Naim range. The first product he presented was the Naim UnitiQute 2, which was priced at £1,295.
Simon described the product as an all-in-one audio player and said that music downloads, high-resolution music files, internet radio, Bluetooth, network music, iPod/MP3 players – everything that the new era of music delivery might throw at it, the UnitiQute 2 could play. The second model Simon presented was the Naim ND5XS, which was priced at £2,145. Simon said the ND5XS featured high-resolution network streaming and had Spotify Connect built-in. He added that it also offered USB/iPod playback, access to thousands of internet radio stations, DAB/FM radio and digital inputs for external sources. Simon demonstrated the ND5XS, firstly playing BBC Radio 3 and then he selected a couple of Diana Krall tracks, which were streamed from a NAS drive in the shop.

Sales skills: 5/5
Store presentation: 5/5
Total: 10/10
Summary: I went into the store with a fixed idea and Simon managed to convince me to buy a more premium product. The store looked great.

Winning Independent

 

Maidstone_TAT_Sevenoaks_Sound_VisionSevenoaks Sound & Vision, Week Street
THIS town-centre store was in a busy area of town next door to McDonald’s. I had gone to this store to find out more about soundbars.
Jason greeted me and asked if he could help. I explained that my TV’s audio quality was rubbish and that I wanted to buy a soundbar. He showed me a Pioneer model and explained that any soundbar would boost the sound from modern TVs. He asked about my home audio set-up and I said that I had the Sonos system, which I was very impressed by. Jason then showed me the Sonos Playbar and he made a point of mentioning that the Sonos product was on promotion, reduced from the normal retail price of £599 to £554. Jason said that, as well as the Sonos Playbar, the brand’s wireless subwoofer was also available, priced at £599. He added that as I was already a Sonos customer, it made sense for me to consider the Playbar and he added that it would create another Sonos ‘zone’.

Sales skills: 4/5
Store presentation: 5/5
Total: 9/10
Summary: Jason was on good form, however, he did not demonstrate the Sonos Playbar. The store was small but well merchandised.

Joint Commended Independent

 

Maidstone_TAT_Ronald_White_PhotographicRonald White Photographic, Pudding Lane
THE store’s shop window display featured cameras and a substantial number of binoculars.
I was looking to buy a compact camera. Two members of staff were standing either side of the counter. Ronald, who was stood on the customer side of the counter, asked if I needed any help.
I explained that I wanted to buy a compact camera as a present and he asked if I had a budget in mind. I said I did not want to spend more than £150 and Ronald presented a Nikon Coolpix model (S6500), which was in the sale, priced at £149, down from the usual price of £179. Ronald demonstrated the optical zoom and also mentioned that the camera could record movie content, too. He showed me another Nikon model, which he said had a smaller optical zoom.

Sales skills: 4/5
Store presentation: 4/5
Total: 8/10
Summary: Ronald was more than capable of talking me through both models. He did not attempt to close the sale and I thought the store was a little untidy.

 

Maidstone_TAT_Currys-PCWorldCurrys PC World, Aylesford Retail Park
FOUR miles out of Maidstone town centre, this store was located between the M&S Food Hall and a Costa Coffee outlet on a busy retail park. Inside, the store greeter was helping a customer, while four staff were chatting behind the counter. After I’d been browsing the displays for a couple of minutes, Pam approached me after she had finished serving her customer. I told her I was looking for a new washing machine. She asked about my previous one and the size of my family and Pam said that one of the most popular machines in the store at that time – and one that she said she was keen to buy – was a Samsung 9kg model (WF90F5E5U4W), priced at £449.99. Pam mentioned a number of features and she said the digital inverter motor was guaranteed for 10 years. She said I could have it delivered free within two days, or a timed slot would cost £20.

Sales skills: 5/5
Store presentation: 5/5
Total: 10/10
Summary: Pam was rushed off her feet as the only member of staff on the mezzanine level, but she did a great job. The store looked clean and very tidy.

Winning Multiple

 

Maidstone_TAT_StormfrontStormfront, Fremlin Walk
THIS Apple reseller was on the superb-looking Fremlin Walk development.
In the store, Tara approached me and asked if I needed any help. I explained that I was looking to replace my bulky Windows PC-based laptop. Tara asked what I would use a device for and I said that I typically used the internet and email, as well as using the Microsoft Office suite of applications.
She suggested that I look at the MacBook Air and explained that they were solid-state, which made them much lighter than other MacBook products.
Tara encouraged me to lift one of the models on display to see how light it was. She explained that the MacBook Air came in 11in and 13in screen sizes and in two capacities – 128GB and 256GB. I said I’d be interested in a 13in model and Tara said the 128GB model was £849, while the 256GB model was £999.
Tara said that MacBook Air started up quickly, and made everything you do snappier and more responsive. She added that the battery on the 13in models lasted for up to 12 hours.

Sales skills: 4/5
Store presentation: 5/5
Total: 9/10
Summary: A good presentation, but Tara did not attempt to close the sale. This was an immaculate store.

Joint Commended Independent

Maidstone_TAT_Samsung_BoutiqueSamsung Boutique, Royal Star Arcade
THIS fantastic-looking store was located in Royal Star Arcade, which is just off the High Street.
Richard greeted me and asked if he could help. I said that I wanted to buy a new TV and he asked if I had a particular size in mind. I said that I could go up to around a 50in set. Richard showed me a 48in model (UE48JU7500), which was priced at £1,649.99, and explained that it was a curved design. He demonstrated that a curved TV offered a better viewing experience than a flat screen, but apologised that he did not have as much product knowledge as his colleague Aaron, who was on holiday, as he normally attended Samsung’s training courses. Richard handed me a price list for the store that featured 51 products, including an 88in set, which was priced at an eye-watering £19,999.99.

Sales skills: 3/5
Store presentation: 5/5
Total: 8/10
Summary: The store looked great. Richard, by his own admission, did not have in-depth product knowledge and he did not close the sale.

 

Maidstone_TAT_Richer_SoundsRicher Sounds,Earl Street
THIS town-centre store opened at midday and a number of customers were queuing outside. After terminating my Sky contract, I wanted to look at a new TV platform and went to see what I could find. In-store, Guy and Tayla approached me, but Guy carried on with helping me. Guy said one option I might consider was Freesat and he began to talk me through the set-top boxes. He presented two standard boxes and then showed me a 500GB Humax Freesat Freetime recordable box (HDR1100S), which was priced at £189.95. He mentioned that a 1TB version of the box was also available, priced at £219.95. Guy explained that connecting the boxes was straightforward. He told me that Freesat was subscription-free and Guy added that to access catch-up services, I’d need to connect the Humax box to my broadband.

Sales skills: 3/5
Store presentation: 5/5
Total: 8/10
Summary: It was good to be approached by two members of staff and the store looked very good. Guy lost points for only giving an overview of Freesat and not offering a demonstration.

 

Maidstone_TAT_Wrights_WarehouseWrights Warehouse, Waterloo Street
THIS discount store is located outside of the town centre in a residential area. Inside the store, a man greeted me from behind the counter. I asked if the store sold vacuum cleaners and the man showed me the two locations where cleaners were displayed. There were models on display from Numatic and Miele. There were also three Henry cleaners on display, priced at £119, while two models from Miele were priced at £129 and £199. After a few minutes browsing, I made my way to the exit, where the man was working on a computer. He asked if I had found anything and I said I was not sure what to buy. The man, and a woman who was also behind the counter, both told me that the Henry was the best cylinder cleaner.

Sales skills: 2/5
Store presentation: 3/5
Total: 5/10
Summary: A greeting and a little product advice was as good as it got at this store. The layout of the store – aisles and aisles of racking – was not ideal and a little claustrophobic.