If you are a Primark customer, you may have felt over the last few months that you spend a lot more time lining up in stores. It is not an illusion. The management of the brand implemented a new in-store organization this summer which has repercussions on customers and employees alike. “We are supposed to be able to provide better service to customers, but the opposite is happening,” deplores Caroline *, who has been working for three years as a salesperson at Primark.
This new system, called ISE for “in store experience”, brings about disparate changes in the organization. Primark, for example, has decided to no longer limit the number of items a customer can try on in the cabin. Good news ? Not necessarily … “We end up with customers who have more than 30 items to try. We have to count everything at the entrance and then at the exit, it’s very long, it’s hell!”, Says Caroline.
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Double penalty since the wait may also be longer at the checkout. Primark has indeed changed the way returns are handled. Previously, there was a dedicated space in the store to accommodate customers who wanted to return an item that did not suit them. Now, they have to wait at the checkout … and therefore lengthen the queue. “It takes a long time to make a return, you have to check the date of the ticket with a pen, scan the ticket, cancel it, ask for the reason for the return …”, explains Jules, 23, working at the Créteil store, in Ile-de-France.
“It is an excessive management of employee time”
But one of the most important changes made by the ISE system concerns employee schedules. “Before, we were in a department and we stayed there”, explains Caroline, 24 years old. “Now, every day, we change departments. On Mondays, we can be in the men’s department, Tuesday in lingerie, Wednesday in children’s … The salespeople are no longer able to advise the customer as before because it is difficult to know the radius perfectly “.
Now, employees’ schedules are cut into slices, and each hour can be devoted to a different mission, whether it be on-shelf advice, cabin management or cash collection. “It is an excessive management of employee time,” denounces the CGT-Primark. “The employees complain that they no longer have any autonomy.” And they would have more difficulties to apprehend their long-term planning, too changeable. Salespeople would also be less invested and less conscientious in tidying up shelves no longer attached to a particular space, according to the union.
Helmets for everyone … even in the toilets
Finally, this other change may seem trivial but hides a perverse effect: with the ISE system, almost all in-store staff are equipped with headsets to be able to communicate. “It facilitates customer information. If someone asks me a price for a plaid and I’m not in the department, I can immediately call someone to get the information,” admits Jules, who says “adore” his work.
But for the CGT, these helmets are rather a nuisance. “Employees constantly have someone talking to them into a microphone, it is not necessarily comfortable and it can give headaches.” Above all, the union emphasizes the fact that everyone hears what is being said. “Sometimes, while an employee is on the toilet bowl, a manager calls him in his headset to tell him to come back and everyone hears.” A practice which fortunately is not generalized …
However, the ISE system would have a positive point: new, more comfortable equipment for employees, such as trolleys or racks at human height.[display-posts orderby="rand"]
Contacted by Business Insider France, Primark declined to comment.
* The first name has been changed at his request.
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