15 Ways To Increase Sales In Your Retail Clothing Business
My grand aunt Nancy had been a fashion enthusiast all her life.
A few years ago, she decided that she would use her retirement fund to set up her own business – a fashion retail store, we were not surprised. Maybe a little chagrined and pessimistic, but definitely not surprised.
Being the supportive family members that we are, we rallied round to help her establish something she referred to as a ‘long-life dream’. Soon, the store was set and ready.
Now, the question is: how do you get customers?
As a fashion retail store owner, I’m sure you can relate. After the excitement and giddiness plus a little fear of opening your own store, you’ll be inevitably be faced with the above question.
You’ve worked hard to get your clothing shop or store where it is. You are also working very hard to get customers and keep them coming back through the doors.
What exactly is missing?
You’re not yet proud of your sales margins and you wish to attract more customers to your retail clothing business.
No retail store can survive without customers. The retailing business caters exclusively to customers. The more you attract customers to your store, the more opportunities for customer engagement and an increase in sales leads to business growth.
The fact is being a fashion retailer puts you in a unique and advantageous position.
People have to wear clothes, it’s one of the basic necessities of life, so they need stores that sell clothes. Not just any clothes because most people are a lot more fashion and looks-conscious than they’d like to admit.
(I mean, who doesn’t want to look good most times or be considered a snappy dresser?)
Unfortunately, people don’t usually buy from you. They’d rather go to an online store to place an order or to the other retail store across town. Your job is to convince them and make them feel that the very best clothes, deals, prices and customer service are at your store.
To that end, I’ll be sharing some ingenious tips to help you do just that. They’re practically down your nose, so obvious it’s often missed. Under these tips are several tricks to usher in customers in droves and increase sales at your store.
Ready? Let’s get started!
1. Attract them with memorable signposts
Whether your store is located in a busy street, a complex with other shops or a mall, the first trick is to actually draw them in. You might get the occasional glance or passers-by might stare in curiosity and then move on.
If you’re going to make sales, you need more than that. You need something exciting, unique, that’ll perhaps draw their heart’s strings a little, nudge them and get their feet into your store.
Don’t do what everybody else is doing. Think of a memorable, compelling signboard with a design that reflects the feel of your business. Signboards and posts are great. They advertise as well as provide a great deal of information about your business. The power lies in just how compelling it is.
Don’t make it bland or regular. Think dramatic with your designs, font, colour and pictures. Dramatic doesn’t mean brash. Dramatic in the sense that it captures the essence of your store in a compelling way.
2. Window display
A window display is a valuable complement to your signboard. Now, not just the typical clothing window display but again, something that will tug your target audience into your store.
If you sell bridal wears you might consider posting a picture of a luminous bride and her bridesmaids with a short romantic saying about weddings and how you can make theirs special. The point is to make your window display appealing to your target audience. Paint a picture they can relate to.
3. Shake things up
Nothing attracts people more than more people and activity. Pique their curiosity by regularly arranging some sort of activity involving people outside your store. It could be a mini fashion shoot of you or one of your employees wearing your clothing. You could also move some clothing racks with your best designs outside.
Something as simple as dressing a mannequin outside also does the trick. The activity should also translate inside your store especially if you have large windows that make the interior of your store visible to passers-by.
A store void of some sort of activity could turn prospective customers off. Get your employees to move around and create a mock shopping experience for themselves. Make them mindful of the way they act inside the store, they should look engaged and welcoming not bored and dull. Remember, an energetic store is magnetic.
4. Be stylish
When you look around you, can you see some missing things right in front of you?
Do you have a stylish shop floor design? What does your wall look like? What about your lights?
You’ve got little to no coherence in your current layout, and you’re not sure if those wall colours match with that floor tile.
You need to start thinking about some new touches you could add to help your shop look attractive and cosy. Everyone loves beautiful colours.
5. Make your storefront welcoming
Your storefront also says a lot about you and the store. It could attract or repel prospective customers. A dirty or littered walkway and peeling paint are a no-no. Take the time to spruce up your storefront. Make it look neat and inviting.
Graphics on the walls are good. Why not place flowers in vases outside or better still a large doormat in a bold colour that simply says ‘ welcome’?
6. Great customer service
I’ve talked about ways to increase foot traffic in your store. When they finally set foot in your store, you have just one chance to make a positive first impression. The experience they get at your store either pushes them away or draws them back.
Most times, an increase in sales doesn’t have to do with having the best product. It is often a matter of customer treatment. If your goal is to increase sales, you can’t afford to be lackadaisical about the way you treat your customers.
Spending a lot of money advertising becomes a waste if customer contact is not handled in the right way. Excellent customer service is probably the most tried, tested and true way to increase foot traffic in your store. Not only does it guarantee an increase in revenue but you earn an awesome reputation that brings in more people to your store.
You reap the benefits of satisfied customers spreading positive word-of-mouth testimonials of your company.
7. Hire a customer service expert
Hiring a customer service expert to train you and your employees is really worth it but if there’s no time or funds for that, have your employees understand the following:
Nothing screams great customer service more than taking steps to make your customers feel valued and appreciated every time they shop at your store. This involves giving them your utmost attention, being courteous and helpful plus genuinely caring about their needs and helping them find suitable clothing.
Simple “we appreciate your business” or “ thanks for your patronage” costs nothing and leaves a positive lasting impression.
Great customer service doesn’t stop at politeness, engage with them. Find common ground and bond with them as people. Ask for their names, and the next time they set their foot in your store, greet them using their names. Take it a step further and ask for consent-based contact information.
When customers are pleased with your service, they’ll be more open to the following suggestions:
- Give them a small card and ask them to fill out contact information such as name, phone number and email address
- Ask them to rate your store on a scale of say…1 to 5 or 1 to 10 and make suggestions for improvement.
- Ask customers who gave you a really high score in the above, if they would mind you posting their testimonials on your site.
The above not only gives you an avenue to start building a customer base from but also arms you with useful suggestions as to the improvement of your store. The contact information helps you to build an email or phone number list with which you’ll provide new information about your store to them.
8. Build your email list
It’s a very easy way to keep in touch with your customers and keep them in the know about recent developments (such as promos and freebies) in your store.
Be forewarned, not all customers will be pleasant. Be mentally prepared because occasional customer abuse is inevitable. When these incidents do happen, deal with them with tact and diplomacy.
Make sure your employees are capable of handling grumpy customers. The key is to treat all customers with respect and politeness regardless of their behaviour. Yeah, I know the customer isn’t always right, but they remain the customer.
If you had a rough day or your customer is rattled, don’t let your service turn sour. Don’t let your or the customer’s foul mood dictate your service. It’s all the more reason to stay upbeat, happy and provide top-notch service.
9. Use Some Seating
And finally, if you’re looking to add some style to your shop floor, it’s time to get some comfy seating options out.
Some colourful stools, maybe?
An armchair or two outside the dressing room. Maybe even just a shelf that you mark as a ‘leaning post’ for anyone who’s just there to carry the bags! It’s a fun little feature, and it’d look great in your retail clothing shop.
Your shop needs a few finishing touches to get the right kind of customers, with pride of place. So why not incorporate some of these stylish ideas and begin to see an increase in your sales?
Presentation is everything!
10. Store layout
Customers remember shopping experience more than anything else. It’s a sloppy shopping experience if your customer gets lost or can’t find specific clothing in your store.
Review the design of your store. There should be a walkway between racks of clothing to facilitate easy movement. Sections of the store should be labelled and arranged logically to make things easy to find. For instance, if a top left wall holds adult shirts, the bottom part shouldn’t hold jackets for kids. Similarly, adult pants shouldn’t be placed next to a rack of shoes.
The size of your storage space doesn’t matter as much as making the most of it. It wouldn’t hurt if the interior of your store is so cozy, customers don’t want to leave. Make it attractive, add wall hangings, flowers and a source of entertainment such as a television to elevate the shopping experience.
Translate the entire “feel” of your business into your products, service and décor layout or design. For example, if you sell luxury clothing items, your “feel” might be understated elegance or sophistication. If you sell clothes for kids, you’ll want to add pictures or posters of popular cartoon characters to your décor design.
11. Offer related services
Another incentive that’ll attract customers to your store is offering clothing services either at a discounted price or for free. Services such as clothes alteration, mending or the service of a stylist are great additions to the offerings of a clothing store.
To encourage sales, such services can be free for clothes bought at your store. You could also tell your customers that you have a free “styling- hour“ at specific times in a week. This will be especially attractive to customers who have an important event coming up and they want to look their best.
Not only will they have fun. It’ll also give them the chance to browse through your store and hopefully have it in their heads to ensure repeat purchases, plus they’ll get the chance to strike the perfect combo for their event. Styling clothing bought at your store can be offered for free.
12. Leverage on your online presence
Many consumers won’t even consider shopping at a store without a website or some sort of online presence.
In this day and age, the advent of technology has made an online presence synonymous with relevance. If your store doesn’t have an online face, you’re missing out on a lot of business.
Some retailers complain that the internet or online stores drive customers away from physical locations but better than complaining is using the internet to your advantage.
The internet and social media are one of the most cost-effective marketing tools at your disposal. There’s no reason to be intimidated by them.
You get to meet and connect with different people who will eventually become your customers.
So, if you don’t have an online presence yet, set it up! Get a Facebook and Twitter account plus a website to really showcase your store. Make sure these accounts contain accurate information about your store such as your opening hours, location and the range of clothing you sell.
Drop interesting tidbits about your store such as upcoming sales and promotions, the range of new arrivals and glowing testimonials from satisfied customers.
Keep your site and accounts up to date with recent changes to your store. You can bridge the online-offline shopping gap by offering discounts to customers who make shopping choices online but come down to the store to get it. Include a cover photo of yourself so customers can see a human face behind the business plus flattering pictures of your store.
Social media and the internet are amazing outlets to reach and connect with potential customers.
13. Reward loyalty and appreciate referrals
As important as acquiring new customers are to your fashion retail store, it won’t do you any good to neglect your major source of revenue – your regular customers. Why not set up “regulars- exclusive” offers and promos.
Customers buy a certain amount’s worth of goods or they shop at your store a required number of times and they become eligible for this. This is amazing consumers psychology, it makes customers think that they’re part of some sort of exclusive group at your store.
To encourage customers bringing their friends and families, you could also set up a “referral-discount” promo or limited edition products. The more customers a customer brings, the more discounts he or she gets at your store.
14. Give Customers Space
Space is a very stylish element when it comes to the modern workplace.
If you’ve got floor space and wall space that’s clean and tidy, you’re very contemporary-looking and have pride of place on the high street.
So if you’re looking for some ways to add a touch of style to your shop floor, this is where you should start.
As they walk in, give them a square of open space in front of them and surround this square with your shelves and racks and rails.
Then, carve a spacious and obvious path around the stands in your store – this will make sure customers can unconsciously weave their way around your products!
Customers like to have the space to take their time and browse, so encourage this from the onset.
15. Use Some Interesting Mannequin
If you have a clothing store, or a little boutique shop at the end of the busy city centre mall, focus on your presentation.
Clothes are made to fit hangers and to look good on them, yes, but customers love to have a more natural, human visual to go by too!
And when you have some shop mannequins to display these clothes, you can expect quicker sales than ever before.
And by interesting poses, we mean the kind of poses that would look good in the street, and not on the catwalk.
Not all your customers will be into the modelling lifestyle, after all, and they’re looking for clothes that’d fit the shapes of their bodies.
You can look up a whole selection of mannequins and their makers, as you’ll have a much better chance of finding the right model at a bespoke retailer, rather than just off Amazon.
Here’s a piece of advice from Aunt Nancy. She says “there’s no better person to advertise your business than you. To get customers in, you gotta look the part!”
Don’t mind my aunt, she’s one stylish old lady. A lot of people compliment her and ask her where she got her clothes from. She simply directs them to her store.
The number of your actual customers may not have reached those in your fantasies. Rather than complain about lousy sales, get to work! You might not be inclined to try every one of these tips but the key is taking action and starting small.
Remember that your fashion retail store is unique and you’ll have to apply discretion and modify these tips to work for you.
I suggest, taking a step back to reevaluate your store. Get a broader perspective. It’s easy to get caught up in the activity of running your store that you lose sight of what truly matters. Try to see your store from your target audience’s perspective. You’ll gain some useful insights.
Resist the urge to overload the wagon by trying all these tips at the same time.
I recommend incorporating just one tip at a time into your business now, not tomorrow, start now!
So, what tip intrigues you the most? What action are you going to take to attract customers to your fashion retail store? What other things have worked for you as a fashion retailer in increasing sales? I’d love to hear from you!
(Hey, so I can share with aunt Nancy too!)