Opening a small independent shop or boutique is an exciting feeling. You’ve got the stock, the store set up exactly how you want it, you’ve got the marketing down… Now all you need are customers. And from the off, you want to strike exactly the right tone to make them feel comfortable.
Let’s take a closer look at how to make your customers feel at home in your boutique. It’s not quite as simple as it sounds, but we’re here to point you in the right direction.
Why might your customers not feel at home?
As much as some people love to shop and thrive in the more personal boutique environment, this isn’t true of everybody. Some can find it intimidating, and may prefer the relative anonymity provided by shopping in more expansive stores, or even online. It’s your job to make sure that any kind of customer feels as comfortable in your shop as they would do wearing the products you have to offer.
Think about your layout and ambience
As much as it may seem tricky in a comparatively small space, think about how to make your customers feel like they can take their time without being leant on. Does your boutique have areas where customers can really take their time to browse without feeling pressured? Be sure to have strategically placed mirrors, so that customers can model your wares in relative privacy.
Creating a comfortable mood is important too. Although you want your stock to be well lit to show off its quality, you ideally don’t want your customers to be reaching for their sunglasses. Consider whether you’d like some background music playing too. If so, choose something that strikes the right mood, and go easy on the volume.
Little personal touches can help customers relax too. From something as simple as a welcome sign on entry, there are loads of inviting flourishes you could employ to encourage customers to stay a little longer. Having your product labels handwritten (while being stylish, of course) can make your shop feel more personalised.
Be helpful, but not pushy
As enthusiastic as you are about your products, try to read each customer individually and understand that - although some will be happy to natter away - others may prefer to only have your attention at the right moments. Knowing exactly when to be attentive is an art, and will come with time.
Always be sure to welcome any customers as they arrive, and communicate that they need only let you know if they need anything. Equally, if you have any staff, impress upon them that some customers may only require a light touch, and that’s okay.
Dress to impress
It’s a good idea to wear something that you sell. If you’re happy to showcase certain items that your boutique has to offer, it’ll show confidence in your product and promote the item in a subtle way. Do you sell a fab necklace that you look great in, if you don’t mind saying it yourself? Then own that look!
Shop around yourself
Why not spend a day conducting your own market research? Go and visit a number of fashionable stores that you enjoy shopping at yourself, and think about what you like about them. Sometimes what makes you feel comfortable about certain environments is unconscious, so taking notes might help tease out exactly what it is that gives them that special touch. Think about layout, lighting, the way the products are displayed, the way the staff talk to you… There’s no shame in emulating the aspects you enjoy.
Don’t just stick to what’s familiar either. Check out a variety of shops, and take notes about what you like and what you don’t. Sometimes identifying what not to do is as important as what to do.
As mentioned, sometimes people simply prefer not going to shops in person, or may have issues accessing your store. So why not take your boutique to them?
It’s well worth considering selling your products online. You could start a shop on Etsy, for example. You’d pay a nominal fee for listing individual items and a small percentage on sales… However, you’d benefit from your stock being easy to find, having payments processed for you, and a strong online community of buyers and sellers.
If you’re looking to buy fashion jewellery and handbags for your boutique, feel free to create an account with Tempest Designs, and browse the our range of high-quality wholesale items.