Apparel Retailer Best Practices

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Retail Store Best Practices

1. More payment methods

With advances in mobile technology, customers demand that stores accept modes of payment beyond just cash and checks. Many customers prefer to pay using digital wallets like Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and Square that are more secure and easy to use than checks or cards.

2. visual merchandising

Visual merchandising is more than just creating displays. It is a high-level view that includes eye-catching visual displays but continues to lead the customer through the entire store. Some of the best practices are:
* Avoiding putting a display table perpendicular just inside the store entrance.
* Moving a product from its regular shelf location to a featured end cap. This has been proven to lead to an average sales increase of 25 percent.
* Creating more discrete digital displays as it can detract customers from the products they are near.
* Selecting fixtures with wheels so that they can be moved around the entire store quickly and efficiently.
* Putting the best merchandise at the front of the store as a featured item.
* Putting the discount items at the back of the store to ensure that the thrifty consumers have to move through the entire store to get to them.

3. Displays

There are five different types of displays. Complementary displays feature clothing that complement each other, coordinated displays feature all pieces of clothing required to complete an outfit, one product display feature a single piece of clothing in various outfits, product in use displays show how various accessories can be styled with an outfit and surprise prop displays feature clothing items with totally unexpected items like toys. A few best practices while creating displays are:
* Putting new arrivals first
* Using a color story of contrasting colors
* Displaying items of various heights and textures together
* Avoiding grouping together of more than five different pieces of clothing.

In case one display is sold out, store associates should be instructed to immediately replace it. The department of each item should be tracked so that all the employees know where each clothing item is. Finally, pictures of each display should be taken so that everyone in the department knows what it should look like and can keep it that way.

4. Store signage

Signs help the customer easily navigate the store. Some of the best practices are using a consistent color palette and large fonts, limiting the usage of the word "No" (say "Refund within 14 days" instead of "No Refunds after 14 days") and showing the original and the percentage discount instead of the exact sale price.

5. Sales Associates

The sales associate’s availability, knowledge, advice, assistance and friendliness is strong influence on the shopper’s overall experience. A recent study by Bain & Company found that more than 25 percent of customers' top frustrations were due to bad experiences with sales associates. A US apparel retailer maximized the customer-facing time of the sales associates by improving the frequency and consistency of store deliveries. The objective was to ensure that the right levels of staffing were in place without disrupting visual merchandising execution.

6. Purchasing

Store managers should regularly take stock of the inventory they have on hand, including goods on the shelf as well as inventory in storage areas. Inventory can be restocked either on a regular basis or when the store reaches an optimum re-order point for a specific item to ensure their outlets are always fully stocked.

7. Handling inventory

Handling inventory includes receiving shipments, unpacking boxes, sorting received items, and disposing of boxes and packing materials. Usually, new inventory items are stored according to the first in, first out rule. The store associates are responsible for maintaining the aesthetic appeal of inventory items in the store by straightening items after customers handle them, making sure all items are clean and free of dust, and occasionally re-organizing shelves and displays.

8. Establishing policies

Any problems or questions regarding employees, store hours, customer service, loss prevention, damages, returns, and other day-to-day operations must be anticipated and policies must be established accordingly. These procedures must be distributed to all new employees.

9. District managers

Beside setting realistic goals for all the stores, the district managers should regularly hold face-to-face dialogues with their individual managers instead of holding conference calls. The district manager should know the names of all employees in their stores and ensure to talk to all of them on a store visit. They should also act as a buffer between the corporate executives and store managers.
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