How do you build customer loyalty whilst breaking down preconceived ideas? How do you attract an increasingly fickle and connected clientele? How do you find the link in the shopping experience, between retailers and consumers? Our point-of-sale expert, Isabelle Thomas, a leading figure in French women’s press and veritable personal shopping guru, gives us the answers.
How do you make the shopping experience in your shop, pleasant, constructive and… profitable? Although the golden age of the physical store seems to have been gradually overtaken by the digital transition and the reign of the ‘e-shop’, Isabelle Thomas suggests another approach to clothing, one which promises to enhance the shopping experience. “Unease when shopping occurs when you look at yourself in the mirror of a poorly-lit changing room and generally feel uncomfortable in your own skin. However, do you really have to be rich, famous, thin, young and beautiful to get dressed?” begins the former journalist. No, clothes should help you to feel good. They have an almost therapeutic function and act as a second skin. There is nothing superficial about it and in the end, this contributes to what we might call, the ‘social fabric’. Clothing is indeed one’s first interface with the world. It’s our way of not only presenting ourselves to others, but also to ourselves. Isabelle Thomas amuses herself by reappropriating a version of the Apostles’ Creed: here, we do not believe only what we see, but the opposite – we only see what we believe!
“You can learn how to dress,” continues the consultant. “It takes time, confidence and listening. When a customer comes back to a shop, it is also because they have found an attentive ear that understands them and sees them as a person and not just a consumer. To overcome the threat of ‘online’, shops must attract clients again, to also encourage them to continue purchasing in-store by capturing their attention with a look, a smile… Nonverbal communication is therefore key. This is what establishes a relationship of trust from the outset. Conversation comes afterwards… It is necessary to respect the customer’s own pace, to gauge what they want in order to best meet their expectations. It’s important not to think too much about what you want to sell at first, ie. your objectives. You must think first of all, about establishing a dialogue.
Know your products, know what you’re selling and to whom. Each material, cut and colour makes a quality garment. You have to have an expert eye and observe how it falls on the client. A piece of clothing creates a look, a construction, a state of mind, an attitude…. You have to try to read the client in order to best satisfy them in their shopping experience. It is also important to avoid preconceived ideas; a garment can be worn at any age, it is above all a question of pairing it with the right outfit, to divert rules. Don’t hesitate to mix styles: the old with the new, trainers and a suit, feminine and masculine. Fashion was made above all, to break rules and conventions. This initiates a real dialogue between the merchant and consumer. A link is created which can stand the test of time. You should try to make the experience long-lasting and to get a customer to return to your shop time and time again. The shopping experience must therefore be played out like a recreational moment: a personal and constructive interlude for the client. The shopping experience is also and above all, a sociable act to be honoured, in which the human must come first: understanding, exchange, openness… The shopping experience is therefore lived as much as it is created.” Now it’s up to you to create yours.