Study Suggests Suggestive Selling

Sep 14, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Clothing retailers are losing the opportunity to increase rings every day because sales people frequently fail to recommend and show customers items they might find of interest.

According to research by the retail customer service company ICC/Decision Services, nearly one-third of the companies studied in more than 11,500 store visits between January and July of this year have sales associates who are not offering customers additional items for consideration. More than 60 percent of the retailers do not have sales associates bringing new items to the fitting room.

“If clothing retailers really want to increase their share of market, they need to increase their focus on the key sales drivers,” said David Rich, president of ICC/Decision Services. “When the sales staff is focused on suggestive selling and really knowledgeable about the merchandise, those stores see a jump in revenues.”

Sharing their knowledge of fashion is one of the areas customers generally equate with customer service in clothing stores, according to ICC/Decision Services.

Despite this, approximately half of the sales associates in the stores studied across the country did not share their knowledge about fashion trends or merchandise with shoppers.

“Retailers should take note of these findings and put the focus back on selling and customer service,” said Howard Seigelman, vice president for business development, ICC/Decision Services. “With the drop in foot traffic and new stores always entering the market, retailers need to look beyond creating an entertaining environment and put the emphasis once again on driving sales and growing revenues.”

Moderator’s Comment: Are retailers teaching consultative or suggestive selling to employees who interact with shoppers? Is the problem identified in
clothing stores by ICC/Decision Services confined to those outlets or are their similar examples you could cite in other channels?

Suggestive selling works best when it is not done for the sole intention of trying to up-sell the customer. In our experience, customers liked being helped.
They hate being sold.

We immediately thought of our experience at Trader Joe’s. In one instance, a customer was checking out with frozen Coho salmon. Having made the same item
the night before, we suggested the customer use TJ’s Pineapple Curry Chutney as a marinade.

Long story short — the customer tried it and, next stop back at the store, came up to the register and thanked us for the tip. Two people on line asked
for the Pineapple Curry Chutney after hearing the rave about the recipe.

George Anderson – Moderator

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