Retail Briefs

By ALI CUDBY

Upselling-Profit

Just before my trip to New York for Curvexpo, I ran to a nearby mall to grab some things for the trip. Specifically, I needed a fresh-looking black shirt.

As I looked around the clothing department of one store, I was approached by a salesperson who asked if she could put some items in a dressing room for me – which she did. I tried on the two black shirts I had found, but wasn’t feeling excited about either of them, so I left. On the way out, I received a quick, friendly farewell from the saleswoman.

At the next store, I went into the equivalent department and was, again, approached by a salesperson. This time, she asked me some questions about what I needed, and why. I told her about my trip as we poked through the racks, looking at black shirts. We pulled a few things and she showed me into a dressing room. As I tried on the shirts, she came back to check on me. She had pulled a few more items – some more black shirts, a vest and a tissue-thin sweater. Both the vest and the sweater were on sale, and she thought I might like having them for layering in the New York cold.

I left the store with a black shirt and the sweater. She more than doubled my sale by being thoughtful about my particular situation, and I genuinely appreciated it. And the sweater – it was seriously cold in New York this year!!

That saleswoman embodied the essence of up-selling.

She successfully encouraged me to increase the overall dollars spent, and did it without acting pushy. In fact, the opposite – I walked away from the store grateful for her help and thrilled with my purchases. I felt like I had received personalized, thoughtful service, and I spent more as a result.

That store didn’t have to do anything to get my extra business. I was already there. All the advertising, SEO and publicity work had already paid off when I crossed the store’s threshold – what differentiated my experience in store #1 and store #2 all came down to the feeling I had working with the salespeople.

In fact, according to a study by McKinsey & Co, 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. Tapping into customers’ feelings is the key to winning the hearts, minds and (ultimately) the spending of the women you serve.

To get more information on specific tools to employ in an up-selling program, you can download the free eBook, The Art of the Upsell.

The next time I go shopping, I’ll bypass the first store and start at store #2. If that particular saleswoman is working, I’ll look for her – all because of how I felt in my interaction. That saleswoman converted me a more loyal customer, and the store will get more of my dollars as a result.

acSpecialty lingerie boutiques are ideally poised to engage customers on a similar level – or better. In this day of impersonal service and disconnection, independent retail stores are in the best position to grow and thrive by putting the art of upselling into place.

Learn more by downloading your copy of The Art of the Upsell now.

 


5 Ways to Fail at Curvexpo

By ALI CUDBY

use-words-to-attract-your-audience-fbd2

With the trade shows coming up, you get to choose how you want to approach them. Many will discover new ways to grow and thrive. Some will not.

Here are 5 things you can do to fail at your Curvexpo experience:

1) Don’t Have a Plan

Arriving at a trade show without doing any prep work for your meetings with vendors is like the nightmare of showing up naked and unprepared for your college finals. Buying goes far beyond your opinion of what’s pretty. It’s strategic and data-driven. Doing some analysis of your numbers will make your buying easier and much more profitable.

2) Don’t Network

Most specialty retailers work long hours and have limited time to compare notes with other lingerie business owners. Being at Curvexpo should be a kid-in-a-candy-shop experience. You’re surrounded by row after row of incredible lingerie and hundreds of other people who are equally engaged in the business of selling it. If you keep to yourself, only talking to your co-workers and generally not taking the opportunity to mingle and chat people up, you’re losing an opportunity to create relationships with people who speak the same language yet don’t compete with your business. So go ahead and start a conversation with a stranger – you never know what you’ll learn.

3) Do Stick To The Brands You Know

The show can be hectic and your time is short. That’s understandable, but keeping your head down and only considering the brands you already stock is limiting. You are the ambassador for your customers and oftentimes you’re the only business who can offer a boutique brand or even a particular category, like bra-sized swimwear. Keeping your eyes peeled for something new and special – and leaving some room in your open-to-buy to surprise and delight your customers – can make a tremendous difference between a business that’s adequate and one that’s excellent.

4) Do Only Focus On Buying

You’ve been in business a long time. You know how to fit, and have trained your staff. Gotcha. What else can you learn? This year there are seminars designed to boost the exact kind of business you run. Where else will you have a chance to learn something that’s so specifically tailored to you? Going in with an “I already know this” demeanor simply means that you’ve decided not to expand your universe at Curvexpo. It’s worth asking if that’s serving you in the long haul.

5) Do Think of Curvexpo As a Task

Curvexpo is work. You’ve taken time – and possibly traveled – to perform one of the most vital acts for your business. Buying. If you approach buying with an “all work and no play” mentality, you can lose a sense of fun that might have translated to your customers. The work of a specialty lingerie business is inherently emotional – we engage with women’s self-esteem, body image and confidence. If you’re all business in the task of buying, that energy can – and will – be translated into the act of selling.

Yes, being at Curvexpo is part of the job. Yes, analysis and strategy are beneficial. And at the end of the day, when your customers walk out of your store loving themselves just a little more than when they walked in, you boost the women you serve and your business. That means being aligned and engaged for your best possible buying experience.

Want to refine your inventory for even higher profits? You’re invited to apply for a free strategy session to discuss the precise strategy you need to grow.

 

 


By ALI CUDBY

Would-Your-Business-Pass-The-Passion-Test

This question might keep you up at night. If it doesn’t I invite you to ask yourself why not. You spend a ton of time in your business. Maybe more time than you spend on anything else in your life.

Including time with your family.

Including sleep.

So ensuring your business is EXCELLENT in all things is incredibly important.

I see many businesses decide that ADEQUATE is good enough. If you’re one of those people, let me save you some time – there’s no need for you to read any further.

I was talking to a retailer recently, and she was complaining about her business. She was frustrated by her customers, her employees, and her vendors. She wanted to be more successful with the businesses and asked me to help her turn things around.

As much as I felt sad for her and her customers, I declined to bring her on as a client, because she seemed more interested in everyone else’s shortcomings than her opportunity to create change by taking action to solve the challenges in her business. Being stuck in blame-mode meant that she was focused on adequacy – at best – and that’s the opposite of focusing on passion for helping women look and feel their best.

On the other hand, another business owner called me a few months ago. She was experiencing even more dire financial problems and was working herself into the ground, but couldn’t afford any help. She came on board as a client exactly because she was dedicated to learning the ways she could take action, and create excellence in her business. Within a few short weeks, she was seeing results, then explosive growth.

I talked to her recently – she was interviewing potential employees.

I just spent 10 days in Las Vegas, working with a wide array of brilliant business minds. While I learned a ton about marketing and strategy, the topic that came up again and again had much more to do with focusing on ways to be excellent, and to rise above the adequate across the spectrum of business. (And life, come to think of it.)

One key to having a business that’s EXCELLENT is to truly love what you do, and who you serve. People like that sad, angry retailer, who is bringing her frustrations to the business each day, do real damage – not only to their businesses, but also to the women they serve.

If there is ANY aspect of your business you don’t love and don’t think you’re delivering at the level of excellence, now is the time to address it. Doing anything else may be costing you time, money and customer loyalty.

The buying season is an ideal time to reassess anything you want to take to the next level of greatness.

Consider which aspects of your business you want to change. Ask yourself if you prefer to make the changes by yourself or if you’re ready to invest in your growth by having a mentor help you make the smoothest possible transition to excellence.

Creating a clear vision of who you want to be and how to serve women from excellence is a gift you give your customers, your employees and yourself.

Want some additional guidance? Here’s access to a free webinar I hosted for Curvexpo recently, discussing key tips when considering inventory in advance of the Curve shows.

You can access the webinar and watch any time, simply REGISTER to access the replay.

ALI BL

 

 

 


By ALI CUDBY

There are many great reasons to visit the Paris Salon De La Lingerie. Of course, Paris is an inspiration in itself.

Whether the weather is blue skies, typical January gray, or the occasional – and unexpected – snow (I’m looking at YOU, 2013) the city’s romantic air always engages a lingerie-friendly mindset.

paris

This year, thousands of buyers will descend on the Porte de Versailles (last year more than 16,000 of them) to see upwards of 400 exhibiting brands. These buyers and thousands of other visitors will explore the six distinct worlds of the show.

Many will focus on the DESIGNER LABELS, which showcase the luxury collections, and THE ESSENTIALS, which make up the market’s key lingerie and corsetry brands.

Savvy retailers will want to balance their foundational purchases with visits to the world of COCOONING, where the nightwear, loungewear and indoor/outdoor homewear brands are featured. Or, perhaps they will augment their buying in the BEAUTIFUL LEGS area of tights, hosiery and socks.

Many successful retailers are finding the value of incorporating men’s lines, which they can survey in the land of SUPER HEROS (naturellement!)

And no visit to the Paris show should forego the LIMITED EDITION area, where emerging and young designers have an opportunity to share their fresh ideas with the world.

As Ellen mentioned in her recent column, the Paris show is where you come for trend inspiration, and companies like Carlin International will be presenting their vision for the Fall/Winter 2015/2016 season in the world of lingerie.

You can check out a preview of their upcoming trend report:

What else will you find at the Salon International De La Lingerie? Oh…just four fashion shows, daily conferences on topics ranging from global reports to retail advice, and the incredible forward-looking Interfiliere area, where the future of lingerie is crafted in the minds of brilliant designers around the world.

Paris… Salon International De La Lingerie.. Interfiliere. The trifecta of lingerie inspiration.

 


By ALI CUDBY

holiday-wrap-up

2014 is ending already? Wow – this year was a blur! Seems like summer was yesterday. Last winter’s endless snow and cold could have been the day before that. And yet…we’ve covered a lot of ground together in this Retail Briefs column.

Let’s take a quick look back at some of the highlights of our time together here.

We started the year by wrapping up our series on buying strategy, with a look at markdowns to SKU analysis. A solid buying strategy is the bedrock of any lingerie retail business. By taking the time to understand core customers and what they buy, a business can be extremely targeted in making inventory decisions. That means selling more at full price, jumping on markdowns in a timely manner, and assessing SKUs to refine the next set of buying decisions. When done correctly, a buying strategy is an ongoing process in refining a retail business.

Getting a return policy right for your business can be a challenge, particularly for independent retailers. The competing desires of offering a return policy that matches the larger players in the industry and acknowledging the reality of finances in a specialty retail environment means a delicate balance with customers. We talked to Faire Frou Frou owner Alison Rubke to learn more about the ins and outs of developing a return policy that works best for your business and your customers.

Pretty soon, the products we saw at September’s New York Fashion Week will be hitting stores, and your customers will be looking for the latest in “innerwear as outerwear.” This spring, lingerie looks will play a major role in fashion, and thinking about your particular customers and how they will translate the trend to their taste will be an opportunity to optimize your business.

Finally, earlier this month, we focused on being in the right frame of mind for success in 2015. As 2014 comes to a close, some retailers will be celebrating an amazing holiday season and focusing on how to grow even further in 2015. Other retailers will not have reached their goals for the business in 2014.

Whether or not 2014 was everything you wanted your business to be, the smartest retailers will take the time to learn and grow as they move forward. These retailers will move past excuses and stories. They will take action, and will invest in learning how to duplicate what they did well, and learn from what can be improved. As a result, in 2015 they will make more money, help more women, and come even closer to creating their ideal business going forward. My wish for you this holiday seasons is that you find the right path for growth, so your business becomes everything you dreamed it could be.

I’ll see you in 2015. In the meantime, Happy Holidays!

 

 


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