Want to reverse fashion retail store performance? Think how your customer feels.

By Cristina Holm, co-founder HOLM

It makes sense to start HOLM’s series of expert blogs with the why? Why, when bricks-and-mortar fashion shops are closing left right and centre, and there’s a bunch of tech companies developing online personalisation tools, am I launching a system that involves both of these things – interaction with a sales assistant and an app?

I’ll answer this question below, and also share my list of five free yet effective ways that will improve customer service in your store starting today.

Transform your customer’s day, transform your store performance!

So why HOLM? The answer is that I care how customers feel, and is best illustrated with a story.

I spent 25 years on the shop floor and in senior management at leading fashion retailers in my native Denmark and in the UK. Throughout this time my favourite place to be was always the fitting room. Here’s an occasion I remember well:

I was on the shop floor greeting everyone walking through the door. A woman came in looking really flustered and angry. After a minute, I approached her and asked what she was looking for. It turned out, she had an invitation to a summer wedding and had no idea what to wear. I asked if she minded if I took some measurements and had a look at her shape. With this info, I quickly found the right dresses and jackets that would suit her. Within 15 minutes, she had a beautiful smart outfit. When she came to pay, she was smiling. She told me she’d had a really bad morning and only had today to buy something. With my help in finding the right outfit so quickly, she said I had transformed her day.

I experienced moments like these every single day I worked in store.

The value of feelings

I transformed her day… Let’s just think about that for a moment. Your brand = happiness, how much would you pay a marketing agency to win you that level of brand association? Yet you can achieve it with a simple face to face interaction.

Are you simply fetching a new size or transforming your customer’s day?

The tools to make your customer feel great

Helping the customer was easy for me: as well as my years on the shop floor, I had a degree in Retail and Textiles as well as training as a personal stylist and seamstress. If only there was a way to give even a Saturday girl the tools to give the customer the same experience.

I spent months researching existing online personalisation tools and found that the ‘pure play’ experience lacked two things:

1. This happiness factor – an app simply cannot match face to face interaction and validation (there’s a reason why women shop together and send fitting room selfies to their friends).
2. Accuracy – many personalisation apps rely on customers guessing their body shape. Women, in particular, can be terrible at this. How often have you heard a waif-like friend complain about her round tummy?

My solution was something that combined a positive customer experience, accuracy and scalability. Here’s how it works: a sales assistant takes just two minutes to measure a customer and tap the results into an in-store tablet. HOLM’s algorithms then suggest all the garments in-store or online that suit that customer’s body shape.The customer now has a profile that will result in purchases that will always make them happy whether they shop in-store or online.

HOLM’s app is highly automated so the Saturday girl only needs training to use a tape measure, turning her into a highly productive personal stylist in a matter of minutes.

Five simple ways to make your customer feel great

You can find out more about HOLM on our website (www.myholm.com), but in the meantime here are five simple ways in which every shop assistant can make customers feel great. If you think you’ve seen these before, next time you’re on the shop floor check how many of these your sales assistants (and those of your rivals) are actually doing.

1. Greet the customer
Without sounding too gushy, a simple ‘morning’ with a smile, lets customers know you care and gives them space to ‘arrive’ in store before you approach them. A one word greeting tells them your brand is welcoming, polite and at their service.

2. Ask the right questions
Avoid are you alright? unless you genuinely care whether they’ve slept well or have a bit of a cold coming on. Likewise give the closed-ended Can I help you? a wide berth. Instead try What are you looking for? Customers enter your store for a reason: do they have an occasion coming up, a holiday? Or perhaps they’re looking for something to match a pair of trousers they have at home.

3. Live in the fitting room
How many sales are lost because self-doubt takes over in the changing room? The sales assistant is the antidote to every bit of advertising or magazine article that has told your customers they are too fat or skinny to look good in clothes. If you are told you look great, you feel great.

4. …but be honest!
If something doesn’t look great on a customer and (importantly) if they’ve asked your opinion – respond with I think we can find something better, or, I know another option that will look great on you. Customers know when they are being lied to and this can do serious damage to your brand.

5. Complete the customer journey
As your customer gets dressed, take their purchase to the till. Not only is this end-to-end service helpful, it’s the equivalent to a doorstep wave goodbye to a friend after a fun visit. You’ve shared a positive experience, you feel great and, most importantly, she feels fantastic.

A cheeky number 6. is letting HOLM transform your customer’s day, digitally empower your store teams and significantly boost your sales figures. Contact cristina.holm@myholm.com for more information.