Department stores have since made major adjustments in their services to be able to accommo the needs of various cultures. Indeed, America is heavily known for being a melting pot of different nationalities that make up a great portion of everyday consumers. Each nationality has a peculiarity and preference different from that of the others, and it is the duty of department stores nowadays to consider such factors carefully. The department store industry and us at Saks Fifth Avenue have been doing so for many years now—shifting and shifting along the needs of various customers. We take into consideration the race these customers belong to, their religion, their gender, and their consequent practices.
Cultural differences certainly hinder the completion of a job. Indeed it would have been easier if all clients are American natives or immigrants who grew up in an American culture and lifestyle, because they would have little complaints. However, with the world market integrating and globalization taking its toll, America now experiences a multicultural society filled with diverse individuals who often complain about racist services and the culturally unfriendly goods on display. Among the biggest challenges to department stores, including our store here in Saks Fifth Avenue is the Muslim culture. While other religions and races tend to adapt, their culture and faith do not. For instance, Muslims always have problems with department stores which do not honor the credit system they adhere to. Followers of Islam are governed by the Shariah Law, under which they are prohibited from incurring any debt with interest. There are now Shariah-compliant credit card services headquartered at the Middle East, Persian Gulf and Southeast Asia, and powered by Visa and MasterCard. Unfortunately, some department stores still insist on the usual credit card practice in the purchase of items (O’Neill).
By far, one of the most complicated experiences with Muslims buying at Saks concerns female Muslim customers, who are often met with wardrobe difficulties. Muslim women prefer Western-style clothes and scarves consistent with the dictates of their faith—conservative, modest, and all-encompassing (“Resources for”). They usually complain about the daring fashion, shake their heads, and, after practically scrutinizing all the clothing items in sight, with the attendant trailing behind, would decide to leave the store premises without buying anything. This often leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the management and staff for not only is there a lot of energy expended, but the store has also failed to earn. I can sympathize with their sentiments since I myself am an American-raised Spaniard and occasionally yearn for anything with a trace of my homeland. Luckily, although such instances are not uncommon here in Saks, we continue to innovate on our product scope to fulfill every Muslim woman’s apparel needs. As a result, our list of female Muslim customers keeps growing, and some regularly visit and invite their female friends to shop for clothes, shoes, bags, jewelry or gifts at Saks. Oftentimes, they also bring their families along, increasing not just the shop’s income, but also the sense of accomplishment among the staff and management. The wardrobe consulting service in particular has been availed of by most female followers of Islam, who seek for ways to complement their faith with fashion. Our most conservative offers are from the Maison Martin Margiela and clothes from this collection are frequently suggested to female Muslim clients (Saks Fifth Avenue).
In sum, what Saks Fifth Avenue department store hopes to achieve is by giving the utmost customer satisfaction without making distinctions as to religion, nationality, gender, age, or body size. To some extent, such a goal has already been achieved and proven through the example of Muslim women and their clothing dilemma. Knowing how much America has become a melting pot of different races, all industries, and not just us in the department stores, must put culture at the heart of their services. More than accommodating their basic needs, it is the duty of industries to respect them for who they are and for what they believe in.
O’Neill, Barbara. “Cultural Differences in Handling Credit.” Extension.org. Extension, 8 Dec. 2009. Web. 2 Aug. 2010.
“Resources for Islamic Clothing for Women.” Families.com. Families, n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2010. .
Saks Fifth Avenue. Saks Women’s Apparel, n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2010. .