Today we visited Galeria Krakowska, which is a shopping mall that is apart of a renewal process called ‘Nowe Miastro’ or new city. The project is to reflect a time of change in the post-communist era, as most shopping centers were built in fields and the Galeria is built near the city center. Our mission today was to look at the ethnographic of the mall in consumers who lived during the time of communism, and how they reacted depending on what kinds of goods they were looking for, or how salespeople responded to customers looking for convenient, shopping and specialty goods.
Carrefour was a store similar to Wal-Mart, Target, and their wholesalers Costco and Sam’s Club. Products range from produce to sporting equipment, house goods, luggage, office supplies, and beauty products. Many of these products were sold at other stores in the Galeria, but at a much higher price. The product sold at Carrefour were more convenient in that the customer did not have to go to many store in order to satisfy their needs and wants. While most convenient goods are rather inexpensive, we were amazed at the incredibly low cost.
However, due to the mass number of products, the store was very unorganized with many items stacked on pallets scattered throughout the store, making it inconvenient for customers to purchase their convenient goods. Long lines at the check-out counter also made the store less convenient, as there were many people in the aisles waiting to check out, with few salespeople. The self-service check out lines were short, but had very interesting cash machines that looked more like conveyer belts, but there was no one to assist you, and it was difficult to change the language to one we could understand.
As the immediate post-holiday sales were in full swing, we quickly noticed it was up to the consumer to figure out what items were included in the sale. We often noticed workers on their cell phones and not concerned about customers in the store. We were rarely asked if we needed help, or if we were looking for anything in particular.
In the US, if you walk into a shoe store and even so much glance at a shoe, a salesperson is quickly asking if you need a size, or if you need any help. We walked into Venzia where the store was nearly empty and as Maria, Sarah and I were picking up shoes, the salesperson was sitting behind the cash register watching us like a hawk but not speaking to us. This may be due to the post-communist idea that youdo not speak to someone unless you can trust them, however we believe that if you are in sales you should want to be creating a relationship with the customer, no exercising a transactional sales approach. It seemed as though most of thestores were meant for a younger demographic, however we were near the university and we were at the mall during the work day, thus saw less of the older consumers that would be typically shopping.
InterSport was a store we walked into looking for ideas for our product category of sports equipment. The energy of the store was very different as many salespeople were helping customers. The store was very busy, and it appeared as though the salespeople were really trying to create relationships with the customer. This also shows that customers are doing more research about the products they are looking to purchase as many were asking detailed questions to the salespeople, which appeared to us to be answered promptly and to the customer’s satisfaction.
We also walked into The North Face store looking at specialty goods and had a completely opposite experience. The staff was not friendly, or asking if we needed help. We walked around the store for about five minutes before walking out, as the store was empty besides our group and the salesperson.
It was very interesting to observe the cultures and norms of the salespeople in the various stores depending on the type of product sold and their reactions to the customers seeking those products. As we set out for the Bonarka shopping center tomorrow we will be looking to contrast our observations of the consumer experience.
Jennifer C. Bailey