I have a love-hate relationship with Sim Lim. I love the place because it’s full of electronics and I love new gadgets. The place has decent retail prices and if you’re looking for replacement parts, it’s often the only place in Singapore that sells them for a reasonable price.
So, why do I hate going there? I hate going there because I can’t shop in peace. I’m the kind of guy that likes to take my time, examining the items on display, reading through the specifications, comparing and thinking about what the best deal is. I’m often not even there to make a purchase. I just like to see what’s out so I can have an idea of what’s a good deal when I want to make a purchase in the future.
The reason I can’t shop in peace in Sim Lim is because of the aggressive sales practices of the staff in the various stores. If you even look too long at something in the store while you’re out in the walkway area, a sales person runs out and asks you what you’re looking for, what brand, what price range, what what what what.
When you can make it into the store before being assaulted by a sales person, they’ll typically walk up and lean over your shoulder to see what you’re looking at. Then they’ll insult your intelligence by reading the specs of the laptop you’re looking at from the sticker that’s prominently displayed on the wrist wrest of the device. Thanks, but I can read. I’ve been doing it for a long time and I don’t need help reading stickers that are placed in a clearly visible position by the manufacturer.
Typically, when I walk into a store in Sim Lim I walk straight to the items that I’m interested in browsing. A sales person will walk up to me and ask me if they can help me with anything. I’ll quickly tell them, “No thank you. I’m just browsing for the moment.” I say it in a no-nonsense kind of way to make it clear that I’m not interested in being “helped”.
At this point, one of two things will happen. Either the sales person will take the hint, be polite and return to their sitting area, or they’ll just stand there. Uh. Hello? I just told you I don’t want your help! So, why do they do that? It’s like having a vulture crouching on my shoulder while I’m there. Even worse, they follow you around like they’re making sure you don’t try to steal something. After a few instances of this I started telling them that if I had any questions about anything, I would come to them. That didn’t work. They still followed, right to the edge of the store, which is where I would directly go if they wouldn’t leave me alone.
Some of them have no sense of personal space either. I had to ‘accidentally’ bump into one guy that was standing so close behind my wife he could’ve hugged her. That’s really not cool. Not at all.
Even if the sales person takes the hint and retreats, you’re still not guaranteed to be out of the woods, because that sales person has colleagues; colleagues that may not be paying attention to what’s going on. Here’s an example. I walked into a store and when I was approached by a sales person I told her I was quite alright and would let her know if I needed anything. She smiled and walked back to the sitting area. Less than a minute later I was approached by another sales person. Then another. Then another. I had to wave away four of them.
I really don’t know what the point of them hovering around me is. It just puts me on edge. It makes me feel like I can’t stay in one spot too long and make my own decision. When they don’t leave me alone, or even worse when they try to offer me a “special price six minutes only” I quickly turn and leave and go to the next store.
I don’t like being uncomfortable and I don’t like feeling pressured when I’m considering spending a large sum of money on an electronic device. I want to take my time and make sure that I’m picking an item that I’m going to like; not what the sales person tells me I’ll like.
I know this is a cultural difference, because I’ve seen the same behavior from sales people in the Philippines. It’s odd that this is the only place in Singapore (that I know of) that does this. Honestly, it makes me want to avoid Sim Lim if I can. It’s too bad more stores in Singapore don’t have web pages that show their specials and sales.
So, here’s what I recommend. If you’re a sales person and someone tells you they don’t want to be helped, hand them a flyer with your store’s current specials, tell them your name, thank them for visiting your store, and tell them that if they need anything you’ll be available (not waiting, because that sounds aggressive) in the back of the store. Also, label your products with prices and whatever specials come along with them, like free bags, etc. Mark brightly what’s on sale and put it near the front of the store. Make sure everything has tags detailing the devices capabilities. But don’t harass your customers! Let them browse in peace. If they have questions they’re not going to run away. They’ll ask.