Why Retail is just like The Winter Olympics

Watching the Winter Olympics is fascinating. Sure, every sport requires some level of skill, precision, and coordination, but some of these events are mind-boggling. From flying down a mountain at 245 kmp to throwing yourself 8 feet into the air doing a triple body roll, landing on a single leg, which just happens to be attached to a metal blade…on ice. These athletes are something to behold. Watching them perform over the last few days got me thinking about the people Myagi work with every day.

Some of the hardest and most dedicated people, eager to learn and constantly striving to achieve the Gold Medal (in customer experience) work in the retail world. And that’s when it occurred to me. Retail is EXACTLY like the Winter Olympics, and here’s why…

The Ski Jump


The adrenaline is real. Super real. You’ve climbed a million steps, beaten all the odds to qualify and now you’ve made it. You my friend, are a retail store owner. Whilst the thrill of owning a store, selling and guiding on the thing you love courses through your veins, you also remember that 2008 happened…overheads are soaring, margins are slimmer than ever, footfall is down and the chance of you going on holiday this year is basically non-existent.

You look down at the 110m slope of snow, leading to another 200m of open air for you to fall into…head first, no safety ropes, no parachute. It appears to sponsored by Amazon…you hate Amazon. Breathe.

You push yourself off, and begin to speed down the slope. You suddenly remember all the lessons you’ve learned along the journey. Feelings of calm from years of experience take over any fear you may have of the free fall that is opening out in front of you. This is easy.

You consider how the lessons you’ve learned, the knowledge you have and your drive to succeed will make this the year you make some changes to give yourself the leisure time you deserve. You know your customers. You know what they want, and you know what your team can provide them. It’s way more than just a window shopping location for the online. Whilst your staff might not be ready for the Ski Jump themselves just yet, you think about what else they could be doing on this mountain, and how that could help them 2018…

Alpine Skiing


There are five disciplines in the Alpine skiing event. Whilst all of them have their challenges and nuances, some are more technically difficult than others…


An event that is a fast-paced journey from start to finish. A fresh white track laid out before you. The media and crowds all rave about it go on about the seamless and efficient lines from top to bottom. If you are confident and sure enough in yourself, it will only be a self-inflicted error that knocks you off course on this journey.  Sounds a lot like the online shopping journey to me!

The modern day consumer has one of the shortest and fastest shopper journeys than ever before. When the click of a few buttons and the possibility of next day delivery, shoppers can go from researching to wearing in less than 24 hours, or the equivalent of Matthias Mayer of Austria completing his Gold Medal winning downhill run 685 times…

Whether a pure play eCommerce site or an omnichannel retailer, there are, of course, challenges to getting the online customer journey correct.

But the chances for the shopper to slide off the journeys slope is nowhere near as challenging or technical as the journey a sales associate must take on the shop floor in order to convert. Where conversion can ebb and flow, the gates a sales associate must navigate to get the consumer to a buying decision is not too dissimilar to the gates in…


The slalom is the race that the store owners and independents can certainly win in 2018. The BBC’s description states that Slalom ‘’requires technical expertise to negotiate a series of gates with sharp and rapid turns’’.

Picture the scene of a potential customer walking into your store. To start with, you don’t know;

  • Why they’re there?
  • What they want?
  • Who are they buying for?
  • Are they experienced or a novice?
  • What their budget is?

And the worst part is, if you approach them in the wrong way with your first interaction, you won’t get any of that information! You could literally get out of the gates and fall before gate 1 – just like this unfortunate fellow!

Navigated this slippery gated minefield can be tricky. You may have the nicest sales associates in the world with the best intentions, but if you are not setting them up for success with the correct training, development and product knowledge, they’re going to have an impossible task when it comes to weaving through the gates of consumer interactions.

And that’s where you can implement the tools that create the heroes of the games…

Eddie the Eagle vs Shaun White


Don’t get me wrong, at Myagi we believe all sales associate are heroes. But not all heroes are created equal. As a Brit, I not only have to love the queen, I also love Eddie the Eagle! But even my tea soaked brain can see there is a difference between the talents and skills he possessed, versus say, what Shaun White has just achieved- A third consecutive gold medal in snowboard half-pipe.

Whilst both may be Olympians, that is about the end of where their similarities lie. One of the biggest differences between them was the resources and assets that were available to them to do their jobs most effectively. As we have referenced before, the sales floor can be as slippery as an ice rink (metaphorically, please do put out wet floor signs if you’re sales floor is ice…) And just like all the athletes competing in the games right now, your staff need the best assets, training, and competencies if they are to give a gold medal in customer experience.

Working with brand partners, you can ensure that product knowledge and brand stories are reaching the customer in-store. Pair that with your own independent best practices and playing up to your stores’ individual character, you can create truly personalised and engaging experiences for customers entering your store. That’s the only way you will stick your ski jump landing in 2018.

OK admit it, retail is EXACTLY like the Winter Olympics! Still not convinced? Below the subscribe box (HINT HINT) is some more gif examples!

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