What are the best ways to drive sales on the floor in high-end retail?
January 11, 2015 6:29 AM   Subscribe

I recently was hired at a high-end luxury retail store where traffic is low, and it's a client cultivating environment. My previous experience in retail sales has been in higher-volume stores and I want to hear from people who work in this type of luxury-driven culture about what's worked and what doesn't to be successful.
posted by Lipstick Thespian to Work & Money (3 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
- You will have to know your clients really well (size and color preferences) and phone your clients on a regular basis when you have new deliveries/markdowns/gift with purchase/special events
- Put things on hold that you think they might like. Help wardrobe your clients re: add accessories/shoes in the fitting room.
- Greet them warmly by name when they walk into the store
- Think about their lifestyle e.g. if they are a lawyer, they may be buying suits from you, but they might need also need weekend wear. If they mention a vacation or a special occasion, think about outfitting them for that.
posted by saturdaymornings at 6:41 AM on January 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

saturdaymornings has good advice--the only thing I would add is to the last one: talk to them about their colleagues/family because a good way to get them to refer clients to you is (for instance) suggesting a scarf for mom's birthday. Or when you call/email your client to tell her that you've just gotten in new suits by her favorite that one of them sounds just perfect for her more conservative colleague/new associate in need of better suits.

I don't know how typical I was, but I was more likely to buy when I called my shopper rather than when she called me (she always did the things saturdaymornings suggested: called me when new things she thought I'd like came in or when something went on markdown and occasionally held my size BEFORE the markdown so it would be there for me after markdown). BUT anytime I called her for--say a jacket I had seen in the catalog--she would put aside a dress to go with it, some separates, and I almost always ended up buying more than I intended. She never was pushy; it was not a "you should get this to go with that!" but more a "here are some clothes to try on with it, so you can have an idea of how the jacket works with things that you might have in your wardrobe".

So, study the catalog to see how things are put together, but also look at fashion websites and pay attention to how the displays are dressed. When you set aside a single piece at the request of one of your clients, always set aside coordinating items.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:03 AM on January 11, 2015 [4 favorites]

Best answer: In the past I've sold high end jewellery, and the store provided us with proactive selling education. Does your employer offer anything of the sort? You might want to look at books that talk about the process of selling, and my all-time favourite on Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping (and really, any of Underhill's books.) Then the trick is to make it your own, and do it so subtly that it's never felt.

The best salespeople in our department were the ones who could make an emotional connection between the product and the client, so learning about that would help. I haven't read What Great Salespeople Do: The Science of Selling Through Emotional Connection and the Power of Story, but I imagine it's what some salespeople do instinctively.

I guess what I'm saying is that you're lucky these days. Sales isn't like throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what will stick - in the twenty years since I started, it's really become a science and you can benefit from all the research. I learned things such as how red can be an impulse colour, so rather than using the black velvet pads, I often showed jewellery on a wine-coloured velvet pad. Finding the right moment to change from using "this watch" to "YOUR watch" is something. There are so many little nudges that really do help.

My advice is to keep a book. If your client is buying something for an occasion, mark the date of the occasion, and if your store offers services, use them to get your client back in the store for you to be in regular contact (keeping them your client, rather than having them wander in and be served by anyone else.) If your best clients come at certain times, you want those shifts. I always begged for the 11-7 shift, because my clients came on their lunches and after work. You want to be there for them, rather than hit or miss. They need to know you can help them quickly and reliably. Because you're helping them by thinking of their needs and offering a service, not just putting things into their hands.

An example, in my most snakey salesperson persona: "L. Thespian? It's been six months since your beautiful engagement ring was purchased, and I understand your wedding is coming up. How about we make an appointment to have it professionally cleaned and polished - it's one of the store's complimentary services. That way it will look its best for your wedding photos." (That's how you confirm the wedding date, provide a genuine, thoughtful and useful service and cement the "we" - you're on the same team.)

Then, when you're thoughtfully inquiring about other wedding plans, you can make suggestions such as "Have you thought of a gift for (the groom/bride)? (Listen, and suggest a fine pen, cufflinks, watch, flask...) What will your wedding party be wearing? (Wouldn't earrings/cufflinks/flasks be a thoughtful souvenir of your special day?) And gifts for the parents? (A Waterford crystal clock or picture frame...) Hopefully you've also sold them their wedding bands, so you have the partner's information too.

Then, when the first anniversary comes up, you drop a note reminding that the yearly servicing of the ring is included in the purchase for its lifetime, and because you noted which pieces of jewellery/tchotchkes/whatever have been admired when either partner was in the store, you mention "You know, when L. Thespian was in to have a prong tightened last, this bracelet was really tempting. Wouldn't it be great to have the perfect anniversary present ready to go?"

But also, be genuinely responsive and observant. "I see your watch strap is wearing/crystal is scratched..." and offer the repair/replacement/superior product. Knowing by observation that your client is rough on (hems, elbows, collars) can help you suggest durable items that will satisfy long-term. Some of my clients were all about what's up top - money spent on hair, makeup, teeth - so earrings and necklaces were more successful than rings. So yes, think about their lifestyle, because what they're buying has to work with that.

And above all, remember that purchases such as these can be the fastest way customers can change how they feel about themselves, so figure out what makes them feel good about coming in and having you help them, and work to make it seamless.
posted by peagood at 8:24 AM on January 11, 2015 [20 favorites]

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