I regularly write a column for Drapers Magazine – Talking Shop - and thought you might like to read it. Drapers is a Fashion Trade Magazine. For more details go to www.drapersonline.com
Here is my original article ‘Independent Shopping’ that was featured in August’s 2011 edition. For the edited version ‘Raise your Sales by Raising a Smile’ (I always write too much – I have a target of 250 words) click on http://www.drapersonline.com/comment/talking-shop/raise-your-sales-by-raising-a-smile/5027836.article.
I have just written another ‘Online Shopping’ which will be featured in this Friday’s edition. When it has been published I will share the original with you too.
Shopping has become a 21st Century hobby, whether it’s online or on the high street, it is now many people’s weekend pastime. However, we all know it hasn’t been the easiest of years (tell me when it was easy), with most retailers going into sale early and continually hearing there is an increased number of vacant units around Britain’s high streets.
So what can we independents do to keep our feet firmly on the high street? First and foremost we need to understand the customer.
How many times have you as a customer thought twice about going into an indie? – be honest. Was it that few customers were already in there and you don’t like awkward spaces in conversation and environment? Was it that you knew nothing about the labels and didn’t want a lecture on what is and is not hip – and I don’t just mean the music playing? Was it that you weren’t dressed up enough – didn’t have your ‘approving nod from the assistant’ clothes on. No? So, you ended up in John Lewis probably, buying the usual brand not stocked in that indie you couldn’t go into, and you probably had to make a car journey or order online – oh the joys of making oneself feel comfortable just to purchase that new top.
What I say is, be brave customer – go in that cool indie shop (all indies are cool, aren’t we?) we won’t bite you and probably make you go out happy and smiling.
Here at Charlie Barley, we try and make the customer smile. When we have a promotion we try and think of something fun to do. For example, at Easter, people had to hop on one leg to get 15% off (or type HOPPING online at checkout). Customers were literally hopping in the store. It was
great fun and not only made me smile, but the customers too, resulting in higher sales.
Another idea for increased sales comes from John (Co-Owner at Badger, Mens & Womenswear Clothing, Brighton). He says, ‘Always ask your sales guy to provide staff uniform. It is great for staff morale and helps push that brand.’
The human race needs interaction with one another – that’s one of our strong points. We don’t need to look at a till to read out ‘Greet your customer’, because we automatically do it.
And it’s not just about the attitude, either, we’ve learnt a lot about pricing recently, too: David Woodward (from card emporium Custard, Brighton) says, ‘We wouldn’t be here if we weren’t competitively priced – we have to be price conscious. It’s wrong to assume my products are expensive because my shop is a boutique.’
Here in Brighton we are ‘lucky’ as locals and visitors enjoy and support the indies, may be because we don’t have a great department store, so people naturally shop around.
So us indies have to be unique to keep attracting customers, whether it’s with our fabulous customer service, cool products or just by being competively priced but above all we will fight to stay on your high street.