Don’t Just Sell to Your Customers, Style Them

If the staff are trained with some basic styling skills, they get more confidence to engage with the customer

If you style your customers instead of selling to them you will boost sales and loyalty. So says styling consultant Nicky Hambleton-Jones, best-known for her role on Channel 4 show 10 Years Younger.

Hambleton-Jones runs NHJ Style, which helps more than 7,500 clients to fill their wardrobes.

Here, along with NHJ style and training director Isobel Kershaw, she gives us her top tips for using in-house styling to boost sales…

1 Don’t be a salesperson, be a stylist

“A sales assistant might offer a selection of jeans. A stylist will say I’m going to show you how to wear those jeans, and will style a look so the customer can see the wearability and flexibility of the garment. That extra level of advice ensures the customer has an amazing experience instead of you just making a sale.”

2 Focus on the experience, not the sale

“Ensure the customer has a good experience. They will feel good throughout the day, they leave the session looking good and more importantly get knowledge and advice. Ironically, that way the stylist will make a huge amount of sales, but that isn’t the focus.”

3 Prepare for your customers

“As stylists we will know a customer’s measurements, lifestyle, wardrobe needs and budget in advance. We will pick the brands and pieces to fit their body shape put things aside for them. There’s no reason why small retailers can’t have this relationship too.”

4 It’s never about just one piece

“Styling is about complete looks so that when a customer is trying something on, it’s three pieces at a time.”

5 Focus on the customer

“You have to be ‘on it’. You can’t leave them standing there in their underwear, cold and waiting for you. You have to work fast but without making them feel rushed.”

6 Prepare a rail

“It’s about a complete wardrobe every time. So get a rail ready with basics, trend pieces and key updaters for your customers – everything that pulls a look together or the customer wont know how to do it.”

7 Get to know their lifestyle

“It’s no good putting a mum in a suit for the dog walk.”

8 Have a lovely big changing room

“Often, the bigger the retailer, the smaller the changing room, so here is somewhere the smaller indie retailers have flexibility. Offer seating, give them space and refreshments, like water or a cup of tea.”

9 Tidy up as you go

“Get the stock that’s not working out, so the customer isn’t confused.”

10 Stay open late if you need to

“You know you are going to make the sale if you keep the shop open late especially for a customer.”

11 Don’t be bland in store

“Too many stores are very bland. There’s just nothing exciting in the window, inside there’s a lack of colour or interest and nothing jumps out. Even if it’s not about pieces your customers would normally wear you have to be visually exciting. It’s all about being aspirational and engaging.”

12 Don’t be pushy

“I’ve heard pushy shop assistants saying ‘that looks amazing you’ve got to buy it’ and the customer comes out and is busting out. You can get customers to buy things that don’t really work but they’ll never wear it and be less likely to come back.”

13 Give your staff confidence

“If the staff are trained with some basic styling skills, they get more confidence to engage with the customer and say let me get you a size down or that shape’s not working. They’re still going to make a sale and the customer is going to come back for more.”

14 Buy with complete outfits in mind

“That way you will make more sales, and remember to buy colour. People say their customers do not want to buy colour. Well, that’s because you’re not buying it properly. And it stands out more and people talk.”

15 Create energy and movement in store

“No-one will go into a shop when there’s no one in there. Encourage your staff to look a bit like they’re customers, maybe even trying things on. And put the music on. Just not too loud.”

Hambleton-Jones was talking at Pure London in February 2015. NHJ Style offers styling training.