Letting Your Customers Do Fashion Research for You


If you’re a retail business owner, you probably wish there were more minutes in the day. You wear multiple hats, juggle various projects, manage a team, track your inventory, re-check your budget, and miraculously find some time to personally greet customers in your store. You’re busy—we get it! So let your customers do some work for you! Many shoppers are more than willing to tell you what they think about your business and what fashions they’re looking for; you might even be surprised by the results.

Instagram and Twitter Polls

Is your store on Instagram? Instagram is not just a great marketing tool for your business; it also offers a sneak-peek into your customers’ favorite trends and styles. When you follow your customers back, you can see which fashions they like on the platform. Save screenshots of images you think would fit into your store’s current mix or upcoming season. You can then take those images with you when you visit trade shows.

Social media platforms, like Instagram and Twitter, are more commonly letting users post polls. Next time you’re visiting a vendor’s showroom or trade show booth, try posting an image of two products side-by-side on your Instagram story, hit the sticker icon to add a poll, and ask your followers which product they’d rather see on your shelves! You can also share the results of your story so customers will know which winning product they can find in-store.

Before you head to a trade show, you can ask shoppers to vote on which new product they’d rather see you purchase. It’s a great way to test-the-waters, without the risk of placing an order on merchandise your customers don’t really want.

Create Live Facebook Videos

Live video is quickly becoming one of the best methods for retailers to grab their customers’ attention. When you start a live video on Facebook, your followers will receive a notification. They can also post their reactions in real-time and leave comments for you to review—which is also a great way to get immediate feedback for products you’re considering purchasing.

Do NOT forget the follow-up. Try using a live video to let customers know when a product they’ve selected arrives at your store. Promote the product as customer-selected, and close the loop by letting shoppers know you follow through and respond to requests.

When one of your most popular items is almost out-of-stock, let your followers know about it! You’ll create major FOMO (fear of missing out!), and you can ask if they’d like you to buy more. Make sure you respond to comments professionally and engage with customers. If you’re responsive, you’re more likely to receive useful feedback.

Offer Incentives

All too often, retailers think they know what their customers will buy, but never really ask! Raise the stakes on your live video by offering in-store credit or a gift card to one lucky shopper that comments on the video. The extra attention will also give your business more visibility to your shoppers’ friends. If you’re not getting much response from customers on social media, try offering an off-line incentive in exchange for their insight.

In your store, set up your own polling station and let customers know that “their vote counts!” As shoppers head to your register, offer 15% off one item if they’ll submit a style or type of product they wish you carried.

People also love food and drinks! Maybe a bag of popcorn or cup of cocoa on a chilly day will do the trick. You can also try opening up your poll even broader and ask how you could improve your business. Keep track of reoccurring patterns or new ideas that would promote growth for your store.

If you have an email list—use it! Not everyone feels comfortable publicly posting comments online, or even have someone watch as they cast their vote. When a shopper has the option to offer feedback via email, you may get more results. Try sending a Mailchimp Survey via email and let customers respond at their convenience, from the safety of their smartphone.

Train Staff to Take Notes

If a customer asks for merchandise you don’t have in-store or online, will your staff pass along the word? Especially if you’re not able to spend much day-to-day time in your store, you may be missing out on valuable information. Make sure your team knows to keep a running record of products that are inquired about.

This shouldn’t be too much extra work because your staff should already be working hard to sell extra add-ons. A good employee will make sure your customer has seen the matching earrings to a necklace, or a pair of shoes that match well with a dress they’re trying on. When your team gets a chatty customer that needs extra help finding a complete outfit, they’re likely already being asked if your business carries “this or that.”

If you’re ready to let your customers do your research, give them an insider experience at the next OFFPRICE Shows, June 11-12 at the Penn Plaza Pavilion in New York City, and August 11-14 at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas. Register here

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