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The Retail Experience: What Does it Take to Satisfy Consumers?

January 4, 2010

In my opinion, quality service is built on a strong foundation of product knowledge, good timing and most importantly, rapport. If a sales person does her homework and knows her merchandise inside and out, she will be able to confidently discuss inventory and make appealing recommendations. If a customer is loyal to a specific brand then staff members must be able to discuss its merits, or lack thereof, in addition to the quality features of other labels, which a customer may find more appealing. If a consumer is looking for a specific fit for a dress shirt, then in-depth understanding of the different available cuts will provide helpful information to assist a patron in making a good selection. By familiarizing oneself with the fabrics used in the making of each garment, specifically the quality and performance, a sales person will be able to offer expert advice and interesting choices in comparison to what a customer may already own. Lastly, by learning about the store’s products, a store employee will immediately know which items go well together and be able to offer quick service. Delays in offering a customer alternatives may cause frustration, especially if he is pressed for time. In the end, shoppers come to boutique stores for a personable experience and for the reassurance that comes from expert advice.

Timing is just as important as knowing your inventory. Recognizing when customers may be in a rush, having only enough time to purchase what they came for, shows respect and professionalism. By being attentive to a customer’s mood and willingness to shop, the momentum of the sale and levels of excitement or interest regarding the store’s inventory, a sales person will know when it’s time to bring a shopper outside of his regular buying habits, presenting him with more unique alternatives that he wouldn’t normally consider but would otherwise love. In fact, it can be as simple as introducing a long time ready-to-wear buyer to a bespoke shirt or trouser. In the end, the consumer’s comfort and satisfaction must be top priority.

Although expert knowledge and good timing are essential, they’re ineffective without building rapport and trust. When a man walks into a store, he usually has something specific in mind that he needs, e.g a new tie or suit for his friend’s wedding. He may find it or he may not, but if the overall social experience isn’t engaging or fun then why would he return? If a person doesn’t trust a staff member’s judgment, feel comfortable in a store or isn’t having a good time hanging out, he’s less likely to be a loyal shopper because it wasn’t a memorable or beneficial experience.

We all want to be part of a community (the popularity of blogs and social media continue to prove it)! It’s essential to make certain that, as a clothing expert, you are taking an active role in building relationships and a community based on trust.

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