"Can I help you" is no longer effective in retail.
Here’s a fresh approach on the “Can I help you?” routine that you get in retail shops and which scares 90% of the customers away. A few years ago, while we were browsing the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul, there were many variations on that theme, but one of my favourites went like this.
Me (to stall holder): How are you?
Stall holder: It depends on you, sir.
Me: Why does it depend on me?
Stall holder: Because if you buy something I am happy. If you don’t buy something, I am still sad.
What a fantastic and likeable way to ask somebody to come into your store. Another approach went like this:
Stall holder: What are you doing?
Me: I’m just having a look.
Stall holder: How can you make me happy by just looking. Come in and buy something.
These and many other approaches I am sure ended up in creating a sale from somebody who was just browsing. Definitely an opportunity for a sale created from nothing. So if you are a retailer, what variation can you put into the “Can I help you?” routine because those words just do not work.