Holiday retail season is already upon us. With it comes the inevitable flood of customers. This is a great time for your retail clothing business, but due to the increase in customer traffic you may experience, it can be much more stressful. Short-staffing may be a major concern. Even with the staff you do have, it is likely that they are more prone to stress due to the busy-ness of the holiday retail season. Finding practical ways to make your business processes as simple and stress-free as possible is paramount for this time of year.
A common complaint I’ve noticed on Twitter (#retailproblems) is the frustration that sales associates feel when customers ruin a clothing display or don't clean up after themselves in dressing rooms. Obviously some of it will be inevitable during the holiday season and it is part of the staff's job to clean up and organize. However, the more customers willingly clean up after themselves, the less time your staff will spend doing so. This may reduce your staff's stress and allow them to spend time better serving customers. And so, for your use - 5 simple ideas to encourage customers to clean up after themselves:
1. Less fussy displays
If you want to encourage customers to put items back where they found them, displays need to be as simple as possible while still maintaining some organization. Is there a way you can keep the jewelry display aesthetically pleasing without having it on complicated hooks? The more complicated a display, the higher the likelihood a customer will not put the item back correctly, if at all. Furthermore, your staff will have to spend more time fixing a complicated display rather than a simple one. Take an analytical look at your displays and see how they can be simplified.
Do you still want to do a more complicated, creative display? Have you ever been to a wedding where you noticed that a small, detailed wedding cake was used for display and sheet cake was served for the rest of the servings? Similarly, if you still want to do a complicated display, consider using only part of your items for the detailed, complicated component and lay the rest out in a simplified display.
2. Less fussy clothing folds
I am terrible at figuring out the origami-style retail clothing folds. I’ll try once and if I can’t get it, I fold it simply and leave it on the display (if I can find the display - more on this in #3). I remember once when I was shopping at a national retailer and was relieved to put back pants that were folded once and laid out lengthwise. It saved me time. I’m sure it saved the staff time. It also took away my stress of putting back clothing poorly. Simple can breed good all-around.
3. Item-Type Based organization
Instead of having outfit- or genre-centered displays, consider organizing the merchandise according to type so that customers can easily find items when shopping and when (hopefully) putting an item back. If I pick up shoes and later decide I don’t want them, I am much more likely to put them back correctly if I see that all shoes are in one specific place - rather than trying to find the collection they fit with.
4. large, Labeled dressing room rack
You have a rack outside the dressing room for unwanted items, right? Is it more than just a simple hook? With the volume of customers you may have, you want to make sure that the clothing rack is large enough to hold a reasonable amount of clothes. You don’t want it filling up so quickly that customers leave the clothes in the dressing room instead of hanging them on the rack. Also, just so there is no confusion, it may help to have a creative sign on the rack letting customers know that the rack is specifically for discards. As dumb as it sounds, I sometimes am unsure if the rack is for discards or if that clothing is being held for someone or if it is new stock that is going to be put out. You can remove all doubt with a simple sign.
5. Creative, brand-voice signs in dressing rooms
It may be helpful to put a polite sign in dressing rooms requesting that unwanted items are placed in the rack outside and thanking them for their help. Instead of writing a passive aggressive note - put some time into it and write something creative that lines up with your brand. Be transparent, honest and vulnerable with your customers in it. You may want to add that if they are in a rush, your staff will be happy to remove items from the dressing room, but that if they are able, it would helpful if they could place it on the rack. You’ve brought the elephant in the (dressing) room to light by asking them to decide and letting them know it's a help to you if it's put back. You may want to make it pretty, framed and hung, rather than quickly done on scrap paper and taped. A quick scrap paper note communicates that the note was reactionary, rather than thoughtfully and proactively done.
Please keep in mind though, if your business is all about a personalized, customer-catered experience, which is more common in higher-end retail - it is likely that a sign in the dressing room would go against your entire brand. As with considering any idea, you want to do what is best for your specific business.
Almost all of these points are about simplifying. The holiday season may cause you to feel pressure to make displays especially unique and potentially more complicated. However, know that complicated displays may add stress to your customers, your employees and you. Customers will appreciate you saving them time by organizing your store in a simplified, logical way. Your staff will appreciate having simplified displays to maintain. You will benefit from a less-stressed staff by simplifying their work.