Asking Women What They Want

Margaret Shrum

Margaret Shrum aka The Lingerie Goddess is a NYC-based Fine Lingerie Expert & Personal Shopper with over two decades of hands-on experience styling and fitting thousands of women in lingerie. Her compassionate and feminine approach has attracted a following of women who are also interested in embracing and owning their unique beauty with lingerie through her company She also offers women a free online Lingerie Circle Community where women can participate in her 30 Day Lingerie Diet Challenge and purchase her Ebook, Secrets of The Lingerie Diet.

With less than three weeks until Christmas, it’s a busy time for lingerie retailers to strive towards sales targets and move out inventory.

So the big question for retailers is “what are the lingerie and sleepwear items that women want to receive as gifts during the holidays?”

We know that after Christmas, the last thing a business wants is returns. They especially don’t want those high ticket seasonal items that will go straight to markdown in January. So how can sales associates help gift givers to select appropriate styles and sizes that will not be coming back after the gift is received?

It all begins with excellent communication and business planning. A solid communication between the merchandisers/ management and the sales team must be in place. This includes the management’s ability to analyze the overall merchandise selection and then to educate the sales people about the products so that they can efficiently recommend merchandise to clients. The entire sales team will benefit if they understand he overall sales strategy for the business and what items should be suggested as add-ons when appropriate. On-going product, sales and management training will pay off in sales results and client retention.

“After making the customer feel welcomed and comfortable, sales associates can begin engaging in open ended conversation and listening to the customer’s needs,” – Margaret Shrum

Most importantly, focusing on effective communication skills between sales staff and the customers. Listening and hearing what the customer wants sounds simple enough, but should be a top priority. Be sure that sales associates understand how clear communication can insure less merchandise returns and a happier customer shopping experience.

Tips for Sales Associates

After making the customer feel welcomed and comfortable, sales associates can begin engaging in open ended conversation and listening to the customer’s needs.

Ask probing questions and repeat back what the customer requested for clarity. This can help fine tune the information so that the sales associate can make suitable recommendations. For example, if a man comes in and wants to purchase a beautiful nightgown for his wife, it would be helpful for the sales associate to gather more information about her preferences, size, style, etc. Then to show him a selection nightgowns so that he is able to make a decision or at least narrow it down to a few options. Before closing the sale, be sure to repeat what he asked for and how it matches with what you found for him.

Once a decision is in place, the next step would be to offer add-ons that compliment the gift, like a matching robe.  Feeling heard and understood can make or break the outcome of the sale. Even if your store does not have exactly what the client asked for, all the time and attention that you spend on them may prompt them to purchase something else or return in the future.

Ask Your Existing Customers

A great way to increase sales and retention and decrease returns is to spend the time to ask your customers what they want. Create monthly contests in return for gathering opinions and information about your customers. Take steps to make the customer feel appreciated and heard by contacting them directly and thanking them with a small gift. For each customer, offer to create a client profile, so that all sizes, styles and purchases are noted and saved for future shopping.

Even better, create a way for women to register gifts for themselves in advance to make it easy for anyone who wants to treat them to something. Use social media to ask clients what they want and direct them to a website to create their own shopping profiles online. By making it easier for customers to shop, share and interact, retailers will be able to exceed client expectations and decrease returns.

With a keen eye for detail and quality I believe that I can help lingerie businesses go from good to great! Each month I will be writing about topics that are brought to my attention from women who are out shopping for lingerie. Also, if you have any lingerie questions for me, please email

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