Do you own a brick-and-mortar store? If it sells apparel, you’re in luck: According to a recent report in Chain Store Edge, apparel is the one retail category in which consumers prefer to shop in-store rather than online. Shoppers like to try on, touch and feel items, and compare what’s available in a range of brick-and-mortar stores.
Tips for Apparel Retail Stores
How can your brick-and-mortar apparel store make the most of this advantage while it lasts? Here are some ideas.
Have you ever tried to shop for clothes on Amazon? With zillions of products from different sellers, each providing varying degrees of information about the product, the sheer volume of data to sort through is overwhelming. Unless you know exactly what you want, down to the brand, color and size, you could easily spend dayslooking for that perfect black dress.
Customers are overwhelmed with an onslaught of data every day, from their workplace to their smartphones. Let your apparel store be a respite from all that by curating only the very best products. Fewer choices mean less stress—and isn’t that something we all want?
Go even further by adding a personal shopping service to your store. When you get a new shipment, or when the seasons change, pull items ahead of time for customers to try on based on what they tell you about their style and their needs.
Educate your customers with complementary workshops or events relevant to their apparel needs. For example, if you sell clothing for women in corporate jobs, you could do a workshop on dressing to feel confident for a big presentation. Do you sell to twentysomethings who love the bohemian look? Do a demonstration of how to style the latest fashions for music festivals.
Keep your apparel store fresh by changing it up frequently. For example, you could partner with another business that sells complementary products and have them do a pop-up shop in your store, or vice versa.
You could even work with someone who doesn’t actually have a retail store. For example, is there a local jewelry designer who’s a big seller on Etsy? Bring her in for a day of displaying her designs in person.
Ask your customers what they want to see in your store. Use their input to keep adding new offerings. It will bring your store even closer to what they want to see.
Apparel’s brick-and-mortar edge won’t last forever, of course. Already, a growing number of big apparel chains are consolidating their stores so they can focus on their online sales. If you want to survive and thrive, you need to start integrating your store’s online presence and its physical presence now.
For instance, delivery is a key benefit for online shoppers. Could you use a delivery service like Deliv or Roadie to provide the same benefit (maybe even same-day delivery) to your most loyal customers? This could be a perk for your VIPs.
Think digital. Be ready to help customers in whatever channel you can—be it text, email, over the phone or in person. Something as simple as video chatting with customers to show them new merchandise or help them choose between two different colors of sweaters can make all the difference in whether they buy.
Boost your online presence. Even if you don’t yet have an e-commerce website (or a website at all), you can make your apparel store more visible to prospective customers by promoting it through local search directories. Get listed on Google My Business, Yelp and other popular online directories. That way, if a shopper starts out looking for clothing online, your business could pop up with the perfect outfit and you could win the sale.
Make the most of your website. Whether you sell clothing on your website or not, think of your website as the virtual version of your storefront and store. Make it appealing, on-brand, and mobile-friendly. Just like your store window, use it to show off your apparel and entice shoppers into the store to touch, feel, and try clothes on in person.
The world of retailing is in flux, but by paying attention to what your shoppers want and exceeding their expectations, you can take advantage of your apparel store’s retail edge for as long as it lasts.