When retail personnel does not treat customers equally

May 23, 2017 - 2 minute read

You miss the times when you were twenty-something and the cashier always made you smile? Well actually, you should still experience these situations - no matter your age. Unfortunately a study indeed indicates that employees, working in fashion and food retailing, show their preferences when serving customers.

Of course we all have our personal preferences when thinking about the persons we'd like to speak to. But as a professional, we should be able to provide the same experience to every customer, no matter what he or she looks like. We should treat people equally.


At the beginning of our career, we start to create and develop a professional attitude. As personnel in fashion and food retailing mostly consists of young and hourly workers, their professional attitude often is not fully developed.  But at the same time, the customer experience is of great importance for the success of today's retailers. Education and training are very important for cashiers, service personnel and other frontline employees.

Prejudiced retail employees

The research paper 'Frontline Employees' Self-Perception of Ageism, Sexism, and Lookism: Comparative Analyses of Prejudice and Discrimination in Fashion and Food Retailing' shows one of the consequences of unprofessional behavior by store employees. The researchers conclude:

"Almost 80% of female and only 58% of male frontline workers believe that badly-dressed middle-aged men (not younger men) are the last to be served when there is no clear queuing process in the retail spatial area. This context strongly suggests the growing importance of an interpersonal skills training process for an organization's staff as a way of avoiding behavior that makes the customers think that there are prejudice and discrimination in the service process. As well as ASL development (T&D against Ageism, Sexism, and Lookism) being part of the strategic statements."

Act before it's too late

The involved retailers are already too late: they can't hide the impression their employees treat customers unequally. "More than 95% of female and more than 64% of male attendants believe that well-dressed, young female customers are given priority when being served", the research team found out.

Does your retail company want to reach the highest level of customer experience? Then you first need to install a high-quality internal communications and engagement platform, enabling two-way communication and providing additional solutions such as e-learning tools. Within an environment where frontline employees can work more closely together, they will improve and get a more disciplined attitude.

Bas van Essen

Written by Bas van Essen

Bas was Speakap's first marketing manager. He enjoyed gaining a lot of scientific insights about the value and impact of internal communications.