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Be creative to keep customers coming back

David Conaghan, Owner of young fashion indie Chocolate Clothing in Derry, Northern Ireland

It’s that time of year again where we are all scrambling to our stores with our bestselling styles, topping up on our big brands, our marketing campaigns are all booked in, Christmas trees in windows and stores are looking the part for the busiest three weeks of the year.

The boxes of new exciting stock start to come through the door and we are looking forward to getting full margin on good fresh stock. However, we are then hit with the news that you
can find the items elsewhere from bigger stores and online at massive discounts, sometimes of up to 50% off. When a customer comes to the till with a £60 dress showing a website on their phone that has it discounted, what can an independent store do but match the price and complete the sale?

It’s the same story every year at this time and it doesn’t seem to be changing. Customers are getting increasingly savvy when it comes to fashion purchases, doing more research than ever online to get the best deal. And who can blame them when at the click of a button you can find the latest discounts, which has been made even easier by the rise of m-commerce.

Unfortunately, to stay competitive and keep your customers happy an independent store has to follow suit with the bigger boys and offer some kind of offer or discount on their product. What we do in the store that works well is, instead offering a blanket 30% discount, we offer a smaller 10% discount to regular customers and provide great customer service - for
example gift wrapping and a free gift such as a pair of socks, gloves, scarves, etc - and the customer really appreciates this and comes back to us time and time again.

However, as we move closer to Christmas the discounts usually start to die off from the bigger stores until after the big day, and so for a short while everyone is on full margin and we can all hopefully have a very happy Christmas together.

David Conaghan, Owner of young fashion indie Chocolate Clothing in Derry, Northern Ireland

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