New selling techniques

In order to gain competitive leverage in a more demanding retail climate and satisfy a more impatient consumer group, new and creative forms of luxury retailing are required. Luxury consumers have increasingly busy lifestyles and their shopping for luxury goods has become more challenging as a result of a crowded luxury market and the unavailability of online luxury shopping. This means that they are restricted to shopping in stores in most cases. However, several consumers no longer desire to go to stores but they want the store to come to them. As a result, several additional techniques have either emerged or are being revived to complement existing retail store practices. Among the new selling techniques are:

1 Trunk shows

2 Pre-season shows

3 Post-season sales

4 Personal stylist shopping

5 Shopping lunching

Trunk shows originated in America's mid-west as a shopping means where individual retailers took goods in their car trunks to wealthy housewives in the suburbs of major cities. Presently, several luxury brands like Burberry, Chanel, Celine, Alexander McQueen and Yves Saint Laurent have adopted the concept of trunk shows and modified it to suit a sophisticated clientele by giving it a prestigious aura.

In the luxury context, trunk shows are privately held fashion shows where the new season's collections are previewed to a select clientele prior to being displayed in stores for the public. Trunk shows offer customers the opportunity to shop privately in an uncluttered environment. They also provide access to products that are only available by pre-order, helping the clients to avoid being on long waiting lists. Another important benefit is the availability of expert advice and individual attention through style advisers and fashion consultants, which are often lacking in the stores. This personalized service leads to a higher purchase probability and increased customer satisfaction. Customers who attend trunk shows are generally likely to spend substantially higher amounts of money than they would during conventional shopping. This leads to higher sales turnover for the brands and a stronger attachment between the customer and the brand. Trunk shows are often held in the luxury store on a specific day, usually after the runway fashion shows and are mostly attended by appointment. However, brands like Ralph Lauren and Burberry are making trunk shows more available to a mass consumer public by providing information and access to them through their websites.

Pre-season shows are an extended form of trunk shows. The distinguishing factor is that pre-season shows are mostly by invitation and attendance is exclusive to the clients the luxury brands select. Also, pre-season shows focus on the sub-collections that are launched just prior to the main season's collections, while trunk shows are held as a preview of the next season's complete collection. The sub-collections are called Cruise Collections by some brands like Gucci and Jimmy Choo, while Dior refers to theirs as the Capsule Collection. Pre-season shows also provide the same benefits that trunk shows provide to both luxury brands and luxury consumers.

Post-season sales is the equivalent of price discount sales normally held by mass fashion brands or brands in other product categories. However, in luxury fashion, post-season sales are private and are mostly by invitation. They involve the sale of a luxury brand's previous season's collection at discounted prices, often up to 50 per cent of the original retail prices. Since luxury brands need to remain exclusive in order to maintain their brand equity, post-season sales have not been widely adopted by several luxury brands. The brands that practice post-season sales retailing do so exclusively for selected customers and on a restricted number of shopping days.

Personal stylist shopping is a selling technique that has been in existence in both luxury goods and conventional goods retailing for decades. However, shopping with a personal stylist was restricted to VIP clients but is now being required by a broader consumer base. Personal stylists are currently found at luxury brands, luxury departmental stores and also at major fashion magazines. Some of them also work independently such as the New York-based company, Paris Personal Shopper, which caters to the needs of clients intending to make shopping trips to Paris.

Personal stylists provide shoppers with invaluable advice on the season's trends and also how they can combine products in the store with the complementary products the clients already own. They also help less fashion-savvy clients define their tastes and choose the right goods to balance their looks. The ultimate goal of personal stylist shopping is to satisfy the customer, enhance their experience with the brand and develop a deeper relationship that often leads to brand loyalty. Personal stylist shopping is an important aspect of client relations, which also provides an opportunity for one-to-one marketing.

Previously, the luxury fashion sector had the reputation of poor customer services provided by cold and aloof sales staff. However, several luxury brands have realized the importance of client relations and are investing in smart and stylish sales staff with dispositions to be responsive to customer needs, with the right personality to embody the aura of the brand.

The shopping lunch is a relatively new retailing technique in luxury fashion retail, pioneered by innovative luxury brands such as Fendi. This method mixes the art of entertaining and socializing with shopping in a private setting. Shopping lunches take place when luxury brands invite a specific number of clients to an afternoon of eating, socializing and shopping, at a private venue. Fendi currently hosts four shopping lunches annually in the UK, each time in the home of a different Fendi client handpicked by the brand. The guest list is a chain of invited guests who are asked to invite other guests until all available slots are taken. The invited guests are shown a collection of products that include pre-order-only goods as well as collections that are yet to be displayed in the stores. The benefits of shopping lunches are similar to those of trunk shows, personal stylist shopping and pre-season shopping. These include the comfort of exclusive private shopping in a relaxed environment; expert and individual style advice; high customer satisfaction; high purchase probability; enhanced brand relationship; convenience for the shoppers; and increased sales turnover for the brand.

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  • Aamos
    Is fashoin a technique for selling goods?
    8 years ago

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