When she decided to move to Florida and open her second store (Look Charmed) while simultaneously running her first, she realized she needed a cloud-based point of sale system to effectively manage its operations. As a long-time PayPal user, she turned to them for a recommendation - and started her journey with Vend!
Read our interview with Zoe below to find out how the Vend-PayPal integration helped Zoe easily grow her business and become successful in the retail business.
Tell us a bit about how you got started. What is Look Charmed?
I feel like I'm a classic example of the power of empowerment. At the age of 20, I started owning my own business because I was lucky to have people and circumstances that made me believe that I could accomplish anything I dreamed of.
My high school had a program called THIS SIDE, who helped me learn (through courses and competitive events) that I was good at customer interaction and merchandising. After high school I took a year off work to work in retail and was quickly promoted to managerial positions. It was during this period of my life that I learned a lot about people management and merchandising.
I decided this would be my career choice and enrolled in the local community college in Marketing and Business Management. To pay for my classes, I worked in a department store and was placed in the high-end womenswear and weddings section. My manager was a cheerful and positive French woman; I will never forget his encouragement.
She was blown away by the fact that I received a commission on every paycheck; she had been running the department for over ten years and, according to her, I was the first salesperson to earn the extra commission bonus you received once you exceeded a set sales threshold. It has boosted my confidence in my abilities tremendously.
She encouraged me to apply at a local bridal shop who was looking for a manager. I did - and eight months later the owner of this store decided to move out and offered to sell me her business. Over the past 28 years, I have changed business concepts over the seasons of my life. When I got pregnant with my daughter, I sold my bridal store and opened a children's store; Eighteen years later, when I empty-nested, I decided to get back into women's fashion and accessories. The common joke in my family is that I went from the bride to the babies to the bracelets and have to stop before I get to the bedpans.
For me, style is the purest expression of art. You start with a new canvas every day. I have always had a passion for the power to express myself through fashion.
Coco Chanel put it better: "Every day is a fashion show and the world is the runway." I love working with clients and helping them feel good about their clothes. Fit is key and I'm always honest. It's not about the sale; my goal is to make sure my customers leave the store enthusiastically and comfortable with their choices.
What keeps people coming back to your business?
I focus on finding clothes that are really soft and comfortable, which are unique and help people bring out their inner rockstar (which is our tagline!).
When you shop in our stores, you can mix comfort and fashion. We've got some really good basics - maybe like a modal tank top that's super, super soft and washes really well, holds up really well, then pair it with a really unique and detailed crochet cardigan, or a piece in the unique fabric.
Basically, my stores always have a wide selection of cozy basics that wash and look great in addition to looking great. After laying this basic foundation, I can then add some fun and fashionable pieces and accessories to complete a look.
I also believe that fashion should and can be affordable, and I've built my success by keeping my price low (under $ 40) without compromising on quality, boutique feel, or service.
What does your local community look like?
I am fortunate to have locations in two amazing communities.
Asheville, North Carolina is nestled in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. My company's downtown location is filled with historic architecture. In all of my travels, Asheville brings me the closest to how I felt when I visited Paris. The region is full of talented local artists and chefs, making it a wonderful place to visit for its exceptional food, art and culture.
New Smyrna Beach is located on the Space Coast of Florida. My husband and I were drawn here by its wonderful, relaxed, small town atmosphere and vibrant art scene.
Bmy shop and my husband's art studio are located on a historic street that leads directly to the beautiful beach and ocean. The street is filled with quaint local shops, surf shops and restaurants. Even though it's one of the most beautiful beaches I've encountered in my life (and known as the surfing capital of the East Coast), it has retained that quaint old Florida charm and is reminiscent of old Key West.
What brought you to Vend?
Once I decided to fulfill my dream of living near the ocean while keeping my location in the beautiful mountains, I realized that I needed a cloud-based point of sale system to effectively manage multiple locations. After researching so many options, I was impressed with what Vend had to offer.
I had also learned during my research that Vend had partnered with PayPal. As a long-time PayPal customer, this assured me of the quality of Vend. I decided that if Vend was recommended by PayPal, it had to be a solid business! That determination has remained true - and due to the quality product, frequent additions, feature enhancements, and great customer service, I have recommended it and will continue to recommend it.
What is the specific configuration of your store? Are you using an iPad, PC, or other device?
The setup was super easy and the support was exceptional. We got the system up and running on our iPad in less than 24 hours and cashed in over $ 10,000 in our opening week, while learning the ins and outs of the features.
Vend is very intuitive; specific details were easy to find on videos located on the website or explained quickly and easily by contacting the 24-hour helpline team.
What is your favorite Vend feature?
I have three outlets and I like the report features of Vend because I can look at my stores all together or I can uncheck the buttons and look at them separately.
Knowing our bestsellers is very important because I frequently order for stores and can say, "Oh wow, everyone is really discovering this style right now."
Having this knowledge lets me know that I should order more. This is really valuable, because in fashion, especially in fashion boutiques, the best-selling items often sell out quickly.
What advice would you like to know when you first started?
It hasn't always been easy to own my own business, and there have been so many ups and downs. When I started out, I was much more resistant to change than now.
I wish someone had told me that if something doesn't work, just keep pushing until you find what works. Stay positive and determined, and don't beat yourself up about failures.
Each failure is the key to learning and motivates you to develop new ideas and move in a better direction.
What's your best retail story?
I'm ashamed of this story now, but I've always been a real stick to sticking to our store opening hours. I never want to be closed out of the blue - and many years ago when my husband and I ran our kids' store together, we both had the flu and a high fever. We took turns sleeping in the back room while the other helped the clients.
Our children were raised in our family business and unwittingly learned our strong work ethic (many times over the years we have had to struggle to pay the bills). A few years ago our adult daughter had been sick for weeks and was still working anyway.
One day his colleagues she eventually convinced her to go to the doctor as she continued to have extreme dizziness at work. She was eventually diagnosed with whooping cough and low oxygen levels. I told her that her health was her number one priority and promised to take better care of herself. She of course then made the same promise to me!
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's retail expert and content strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool stuff that helps retailers increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She is also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers make their stores more sustainable. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.
Are you a retailer ( or retail sales associate ) who’s struggling with how to approach shoppers ? Worried that you lack the magic touch, or that you’ll come off as an annoying salesperson ? Would you rather be awkwardly staring at your store’s point of sale software screen than actually talking to the customer in front of you ?
You should keep reading because, after years of being one of the strongest sellers at my store, I can garantit you : anyone can sell. That’s not to say it’s not going to take a lot of practice. But over the years, I’ve found that a customer will tell you verbally and/or physically how to sell to them. If you’re listening properly and looking for the right cues, you can always tell if a customer is interested in what you have to say, what approach to take with them, and what exactly they’re looking for.
Check out the tips below, put them into action, and you should find yourself successfully closing sales : Practice Active ListeningActive listening isn’t just about standing in front a customer silently. There are a few important things you should be doing to engage in this practice :
The most important part of réactive listening is to not form a response while the customer is speaking. This is really to do, and is going to take a lot of practice. It’s very natural to latch on to one part of a comment and form a response to it, and then shut out the rest of the comment. tera become a good listener, a sales person must resist doing this. Active listening should engage your whole body. Things like nodding and having an open stance show the customer that you are listening to what they have to say. Once it’s time for you to speak, give the customer a quick summary of what they said. This has a few purposes. First, it allows you to come up with a response post-comment without things being awkwardly silent. Second, showing the customer that you heard everything they had to say will often open them up to providing you with more information than they initially supplied.
Practicing réactive listening means that you are fully engaged with learning what the customer wants. This engagement makes a huge difference. Not only will you understand what the customer wants in a deeper way, but you also gain their trust easier.
Next : Pay Attention to Body LanguageAlong with réactive listening, you should be practicing ‘active looking. ’ ( Yes, I just made that term up. ) People will betray a lot of what they’re thinking in the things that they do with their body. A lot of body language experts will tell you some odd things to look for, like watching if someone scratches their nose, but I don’t think that level of depth is necessary. In fact, I think that if you’re watching for a customer to scratch their nose, you’re probably not practicing réactive listening.
However, there is still plenty of body language you should be paying attention to while you’re actively listening. Let me give you a short list of tells you can easily pick up on during a conversation with a customer. 1. Eye ContactWhere a person’s eyes are looking is one of the easiest ways to tell what they’re focusing on. If the customer is looking at you, or the products you’re working with, that’s a good sign. It means they’re engaged with you and are interested in what you have to say and sell.
If they’re looking around, at someone else, out the door… anywhere that’s not where you are – that’s not a great sign. Usually if this is the case you should say something like, “Let me know if you need anything else, ” and let them do their own thing. No eye contact doesn’t mean you won’t be able to close the sale – but it could spell trouble if you don’t pay attention.
Hands/ArmsAnother important thing to pay attention to is what people do with their hands and arms. Typically, if someone’s arms are crossed, they are uncomfortable and probably not interested in what you have to say. You should tread gently : let this customer know you are there to help. If you’re talking with a customer who is clearly shy and uncomfortable with talking to you, I recommend acting in a more reserved manner and avoiding things like answering questions the customer has yet to ask. In addition, because this positionnement reflects a closed off mind, I mostly suggest avoiding suggestive selling. Suggestive selling does not work well on someone who is not interested.
Open arms and palms facing towards you, however, are an extra sign. If your customer has taken this sort of forme in your conversation, you’re doing well. In fact, I would definitely recommend going for it with suggestive selling. ( Of course, make sure you’re showing them items that are actually related to what they want, not just some pre-placed item that your directeur wants to get rid of. )
Facial Expression—Particularly the Curve of Their MouthLastly, you should be paying attention to the termes you customer is making. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to pay close attention to your customer’s facial expressions. Even if a customer is pulling a straight face at you, most people’s mouths are fairly expressive in small ways. Often, the corners of the mouth will be curving slightly up or slightly down. Down is not good for you – it indicates frustration or annoyance. Curving up, though, is an extra sign. Additionally, you should pay attention to how tightly the lips are held. If they’re pressed tightly together, it can mean the same thing as crossed arms.
That’s the three major areas of body language you should be paying attention to while actively listening to your customer. Keep in mind that while the customer’s body can give you an indication about how they feel towards you and your product, it’s the listening that is going to yield you the important information about what they want. Now that we’ve established good customer reading techniques, let’s talk about what to do with the information you pick up :
Respond With Similar Body LanguageOne of the easiest ways to set someone at ease is to “mirror” their body language. You don’t want to go overboard on this – that can seem creepy or just mean. But little things are really important. Start with pace and timing. Is the customer in a hurry ? Or do they want to take things slow and steady ? Speak and act at the same pace as the customer. If she’s in a hurry, speaking quickly and speed walking across the store, then you should speak quickly and speed walk across the store as well. If she’s speaking slowly and moves slowly, your speed talking and walking will only come across as aggressive to her.
In addition, you can do subtle things like adopt a similar positionnement, or use similar hand gestures. With the hand gestures, be careful. You don’t want to come across as mocking your customer. Don’t make juste replicas of hand gestures, keep it general. Determine if someone is ready to buy ( or not ) based on non-verbal cuesHere are a few more tips to help you differentiate shoppers who are ready to buy versus those who aren’t interested.
According to SCORE contributor Lee Perlitz, signals that shoppers are interested in a product include : Spending time looking at or discussing one product type – When a customer spends time focusing on just one product, there’s a good chance they’ve already set their sights on that one and are interested in purchasing it. Looking around for somebody to help them – Catch the shopper’s gaze when you see them looking around. According to Perlitz, you can approach them “if they sustain the glance or raise their eyebrows. ”Body language – A shift in body language signals “a change in esprit state that may well indicate readiness to buy. ” For example, if the shopper suddenly looks relaxed after you’ve answered their questions, that could be an indication that they’re ready to buy.
Be sure to approach customers once you see them exhibiting these signals. Failing to spot these signs or not acting in time could result in you missing out on the sale. On the flip side, here are the non-verbal signals indicating that someone isn’t ready to buy. Avoiding eye contact – If a customer doesn’t hold your gaze when you look at them, it likely means they’re not ready to make a purchase yet. Making ‘not now’ excuses – Statements like “just looking” or “not now” are clear signals that they aren’t ready to buy. Perlitz recommends that retailers “make an encouraging remark to keep them looking and back off. ”Looking at many different products – Not being focused on just one product is another indication that shoppers should be given space.
When you see or hear people exhibiting the signals above, then it’s best to hold off on the hard sell. Figure out the type of customer that you’re dealing with and respond accordinglyAs you know, there are several types of customers who walk through your doors, and you need to tailor your approach accordingly. tera help you do that, we’ve put together a quick slideshow summarizing the most common genres of customers in retail. Check it out below :
More tips ? Those are our tips and tricks to help anyone become a good sales person. It’s important to remember that truly good sales people work on creating trusting relationships with their clients before they sell them anything. If you are capable of creating a trusting relationship, you are capable of selling. These tips are intended to help you create that relationship.
What tricks to reading customers do you employ ? Let us know in the comments below ! Author Bio : Cara Wood is a digital administrative assistant at Capterra, a company that puts business software buyers in touch with business software vendors ! When she’s not hard at work at Capterra, she can be found horse-back riding, reading and just generally having a good time at life.