Since Intimate apparel lingerie consultancy was established in 2009, the company has been asked by both lingerie retailers abroad and in the UK, to review and cast a “fresh eye” over their lingerie businesses.
Casting a fresh eye on your lingerie business
A lingerie consultancy services different needs for different businesses. Some lingerie businesses have been trading successfully for many years and simply fear the business may be getting stale, so want fresh ideas and input. Others want to take their business to the next level and are unsure of the best path. Some have experienced a bad season and have simply lost confidence or there are lingerie businesses that are relatively new to our dynamic and challenging industry that perhaps aren’t performing as well as they’d envisaged and they can’t see a clear and profitable way forward, so they seek help.
Whatever the concerns of a specific lingerie business, an expert lingerie consultant has an unemotional relationship or history with the business, allowing them to perform a comprehensive and objective assessment and work with the client to find a way forward. This assessment would include a detailed discussion of problems, issues, systems, processes and performance and then we’d put forward new ideas and a programme for implementation, resulting in changes to the business.
So the aim of this article is to give you an idea of how a specialist lingerie business consultancy works to achieve these goals and how you might emulate them to improve the performance of your businesses and realise its potential. A sort of DIY lingerie business consultancy.
What would a consultant do if they spent a day in your lingerie business?
When a consultant is asked to go along to a retail business, be it a new or established lingerie business, they approach it in the same way every time. Self-analysis is not easy but hopefully this article will go some way to guiding you so you can self-help and examine your business yourself.
Firstly you need to list and be honest about what the problems and successes are, a consultant would ask a lot of detailed and probing questions to get down to the real issues, cut everything back to basics and see the bare bones i.e. what’s working and what isn’t. Prioritise! What are the immediate priorities and urgent issues? If you struggle with this, seek some advice and help from a friend or partner, or staff in the business as this is an important part of the process.
Look at the outside of your lingerie business
Firstly, review from the consumer’s angle, then go online, review the website, your social media pages, your products, pricing, the images you’re using and build a picture of what this business looks like to customers. Ask yourself who should shop here and why? This may be difficult for you to complete as you will be too close to the business so again you can get help.
Review your premises and thoroughly take in the area and client demographics and chat to people on the street and ask them if they shop there, if they do, why? Ask them what their opinion and experience is? Check out the outside of the shop thoroughly, don’t glance over and accept what is there, but look in detail at the overall general impression, i.e. cleanliness, appearance and the state of repair of the frontage. Does it stand out; project the right images and message? Does the signage reflect what the shop is and do the windows tell you what the consumer should see inside?
Does the inside of your lingerie shop meet expectations?
Once the outside review is completed, move on to the inside? First impressions are all important in a retail environment. Does the window reflect and continue the theme through to the shop floor? Is it warm, welcoming, does it smell lovely and feel inviting? Is it intriguing, well merchandised? What type of products and service should you expect and are you greeted in a friendly helpful way?
Things like cleanliness and tidiness of the cash point area and fittings rooms are important, so inspect these carefully as these are the areas that a customer always spends some time at! They should be spotlessly clean. Fitting rooms should be warm comfortable and tidy and offer a stool or chair if possible and of course a sparkling clean mirror and clothes hooks, at least 2! By now you should have a clear picture in your head of the target customer, so it’s time to review the product, brands, merchandising, hangers, and decor? Does it all add up and make sense? Does your lingerie shop meet customers’ expectations?
Processes and systems in your lingerie shop – It’s time to review and examine the business.
You will need to review:
- · Processes
- · Stock levels
- · Your stock room
- · OTB
- · Re-ordering systems
- · Stock control
Finally you should review the promotional calendar and social media marketing activity plan of your lingerie business and look at how events and promotions are recorded i.e. how do you assess what was successful and why and likewise what wasn’t?
Lingerie product knowledge
It’s time to think about where you can get new seasonal product knowledge, inspiration and ideas for the business. Be honest with yourself, are you well informed about the lingerie industry? Ask yourself how you review your successes and plan your seasonal buying. How much time do you spend heads down in the business and likewise do you get out and comp’ shop with other retailers. Do you understand the bigger industry picture and what new product categories are out there and are you adding “in trend” items to your lingerie shop? It’s also a good idea to ask your staff, because believe it or not most of the issues and some solutions are identified in the business by good staff, they might not know how they can affect these solutions and how they should be implemented, but your staff generally do have insight.
Agree a plan and implement it
Finally agree an action plan and way forward. By now you should be building a picture of the business and starting to create a list of recommendations and observations to enable you to create an action plan and put a detailed process together.
It’s a full on tiring day and you may be thinking that all of this sounds too much but when you do it all the time, it’s a normal process. By the end of the process your notebook should be full, job lists and action plan completed. along with a target time-scale to ensure the implementation takes place in the most realistic manner and order of priority.
Make sure you set a review date in your diary, a day to review the changes and consider the effect they’ve had and amend and review again. This way you’re ensuring your lingerie business is back on track with focus and most importantly a clear plan and way forward. Good luck!