Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Romancing in retail ....fashion

Sounds so obvious but wouldn't it be fab if all the people working in fashion retail actually knew a little about, well, fashion! Nothing too fancy, just one or two pieces of advice they could give to numpties like me who don’t really have a clue what really suits them.

I was truly, absolutely and utterly delighted when I visited New Look in Solihull last Saturday. I confess I didn't have much of an expectation when it came to receiving service, but rather like a party you’re not looking forward to, I had a great time once I got there. I mooched the store, selected a few items to ‘try on’ (sadly, as a wizened fart, the days when I could buy something and know for sure it would fit/suit me are long gone) and this was when the delight began ……..

The fitting rooms are really rather lovely – none of the usual high street tumbleweed dust balls, dirty mirrors, chewing gum or broken doors. Next came the ‘big mirror’ experience. I don’t know about you but when I try on clothes I want out of the little cubical PDQ to get a proper look at the outfit (latent catwalk yearning perhaps?) The etched quote on the central mirror is in the tone & personality of a mischievous best friend urging you out, then, even better than that, it actually encourages you to be honest with the female next to you – if she looks gorgeous – tell her! Yey

Then the defining moment. A sales assistant who (a) knew her stuff (b) had energy, enthusiasm & charm (c) was helpful, friendly and like a breathe of spearmint fresh air. A total joy. Let’s call her retail Rosie – not more than 17, maybe 18, she knew how to engage me, advise me, share her knowledge and suggest alternatives. I just loved it – she wasn't in the slightest bit pushy, simply loved what she was doing – and it showed by the bucketful!

I took her advice, made my choices and left for home feeling like a million dollars …….all because retail Rosie showed an interest, listened and was confident enough to share her enthusiasm

What she did that was so delightful …….

  • Smiled – simple & so obvious but sadly missing from high street retailing
  • Paid me a genuine compliment (must have been, other customers said naarce stuff too)
  • Made sensible suggestions in a charming, conversational way “tell you what looks great with that” or “I saw a lady this morning try that with a belt and it looked lovely” or “that colour really suits you, bet you’ve already got black trousers you could wear it with” and then finally, “when you’re tall it can be really tough finding the right fit but that shirt looks great” – genuine, honest and thoughtful
  • She made suggestions then she shut up! Never in my face, pestering or badgering – simply available with a smile or eye contact whenever I ventured for the ‘big mirror’
  • She said smiled and said thank you when I left the fitting room
  • Nothing was a pain – I’m so fatigued by sales assistants huffing, rolling their eyes or tutting in exasperation when I seek their advice – they just give me attitude and I don’t need theirs, I got one of my own!!

If fashion retailers made a conscious effort to recruit individuals with the energy, brilliance and enthusiasm shown by retail Rosie then the British economy would see a significant shift upwards – we’d all be seduced into a little but highly pleasurable retail therapy.

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