Retail Customer Retention: This Fashion Retailer Shares 6 Clever Tips to Keep Shoppers Coming Back

The realm of apparel and accessories industry continues to grow. Global retail sales for apparel hit 1.9 trillion in 2019 and is forecasted to reach 3.3 trillion by the year 2030

That said, it’s important to remember that growth in demand and opportunity also lead to higher levels of competition. Shoppers have more choices than ever before, and so retailers need to be at the top of their game to thrive. So, how does one stand out in today’s landscape? To answer this, we caught up with Harriet Cleverly, founder of Cleverly Wrapped, a women’s clothing store in the UK.

The story behind Cleverly Wrapped

Harriet started Cleverly Wrapped seven years ago, after having spent time living abroad. She had a strong background in retail operations, so when she got back to the UK, she decided to set up her own retail business. 

Cleverly Wrapped began as an online store that focused solely on scarves. “The reason for that,” explains Harriet, was because scarves “are light, easy to ship, and they’re not sized. I knew that sizing was an issue with lots of online companies, so I thought, ‘Let’s just keep this really simple.’”

Business was going well, but Harriet ran into issues with low product demand during the summer. Since people usually purchased scarves in the fall and winter months, business did great from October to February, but sales tended to slow down after that.

So, she decided to expand her catalog. “I started doing some sarongs and pareos, and things that made sense for the summer. Then I started going into kaftans, and then as I sold more and more scarfs in the winter, I realized that it was an obvious thing to start doing jumpers. So then I started buying lots of plain jumpers,” she said. 

Adding a brick-and-mortar store

After a number of years being an online-only retailer, Harriet made the decision to set up shop offline when she realized the opportunity in brick-and-mortar retail.

“I noticed that whenever anyone came to my studio — which was basically my garage — the conversion rates were incredible. So I decided that I was going to open a shop, which wasn’t something originally that I wanted to do.”

She continues, “I opened a shop in Stockbridge, Hampshire, which is about 20 minutes from my house. Then of course, because I opened a shop, I then started to add on way more product lines very, very quickly.”

Fast forward to today, and Harriet has a thriving online store and brick-and-mortar shop. She has a steady stream of customers who shop at Cleverly Wrapped time and time again. 

Here are some of the key things that Harriet and her team are doing to attract and retain more customers. 

6 Retail Customer Retention Tips from Cleverly Wrapped

1. Differentiation through customer service

One of the ways that sets Cleverly Wrapped apart is the team’s commitment to customer service. 

My number one thing that has always been my focus is customer service. Me and my team literally strive to have the best customer service.”

In-store, this translates to assisting shoppers right away and helping them find what they need. Online, customers enjoy value-add services like free gift wrapping. 

There’s also fast and free shipping, so customers can get their products as quickly as possible. Cleverly Wrapped does this by shipping orders 6 days a week. “We only don’t dispatch on a Sunday on the same day, but it goes on Monday morning. We also offer free postage.”

The store’s customer service extends even after shoppers have made a purchase. In fact, they continue to serve customers throughout the returns and refunds process.

“If you send something back to us, we refund on the same day as we receive the product, guaranteed,” she says.

“We send you a personal email — not automated — letting you know that we’ve received your return and refunded your item.”

Further Reading

Need more examples of excellent customer service done right? This post offers several real-life instances of retailers offering unparalleled customer support.

Learn More

2. A high-value newsletter

The team at Cleverly Wrapped make it a point to regularly touch base with customers through a weekly newsletter. 

And unlike other brands, which focus solely on pushing their products, Harriet and her team always include useful content in their messages. 

“We strive to give our subscribers something. We give lots of outfit ideas, lots of styling ideas for scarves — such as how to tie a scarf, what to wear with this, layering, transitional dressing, etc. Instead of just putting a whole load of pictures up, we add some value with our newsletters,” says Harriet.

3. Premium brand positioning

Harriet says that she’s careful to position Cleverly Wrapped as a premium brand. One of the ways she does this is through strategic sales and promotions instead of steep discounts. 

“What we don’t do is discount often,” remarks Harriet.

“The only time I go on sale is in January and in August, end of story. I don’t discount at any other time through the rest of the year and I don’t do Black Friday. I don’t do any of that because I feel you get value-add in other ways from us, with the free packaging, free postage, same-day dispatch, same-day refund, free gift-wrapping, all of that.”

Cleverly Wrapped serves as an excellent example of premium brand positioning. Harriet shows us that you don’t always have to slash your prices to generate sales. Instead of competing on prices, strive to compete on value. 

4. A loyalty program that surprises and delights

Cleverly Wrapped has a loyalty program in store (powered by Vend) that helps drive customer retention. Here’s how it works: customers earn £1 for every £25 they spend, and they can redeem those loyalty points on their next purchase. 

According to Harriet, Vend Loyalty is incredibly easy to set up; they simply ask each customer for their email address to send their receipt, and shoppers can opt into the program. 

She estimates that over 90% of Cleverly Wrapped customers sign up for the loyalty program. 

“Customers love it,” she adds.

5. Relatable imagery

Harriet recently discovered that her customers — typically women in their late 40s to 60s — respond better to models who look like them. 

“One thing we started doing that was really successful was using a 52-year old model,” she explains. “We’ve got two models on our website at the moment. One of them is 32 and the one is a 52-year old model who’s about a UK size 12.”

Harriet continues, “People are responding really well to the latter, and I think that’s one more thing that we’re doing that our customers truly appreciate.” 

6. Putting Instagram videos to good use

Harriet is very active on Instagram, and she uses it to connect with her audience. She regularly goes on Instagram Stories to try on all of Cleverly Wrapped’s new collections. She says that this practice has resonated well with her followers. 

“I personally try on every single item that comes into the shop, even if I look horrible in it. I post them all on my Instagram Stories. So you can see me literally trying on everything. People love that, because even if you’re not the same size as me or the same height as me, you’ve got a point of reference.” 

She also goes on video to share practical fashion tips. For instance, in the video below you’ll see Harriet showing people the different ways to style a silk scarf. 

Cleverly Wrapped + Vend

Harriet uses Vend to power Cleverly Wrapped’s brick-and-mortar store. And since Vend seamlessly integrates with her ecommerce site (WooCommerce), she can keep her inventory synced on both platforms.

According to Harriet, one of her favorite things about Vend is our customer support. “Honestly, what the girls in the shop say that they like about Vend more than anything, is if we have a problem, you can call a number and a real-life human being,” she says. 

“It’s so refreshing — particularly in such an IT-driven, techy world — that you also have customer service people to speak to.”

We hope you enjoyed Cleverly Wrapped’s story and it inspires your own marketing efforts! You could also sign up to Harriet’s newsletter and get 10% off your first order!

And if you’re looking for a solid retail solution to power your business, Vend offers POS, inventory control, loyalty, and reporting capabilities to help you manage your business and grow your sales. Take a free trial and discover how Vend can help you uplevel your retail biz. 

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.