10 things we learnt from British fashion retailer Karen Millen

We revealed in an earlier post that our Creative Director had also done a cameo as a stylist for the British fashion retailer Karen Miller a few years ago, just before the brand was taken over and converted to an online offering only, closing all of its brick and mortar stores. That time from 2016 – 2017 at the retailer was especially insightful and rewarding as it really opened his eyes (and ours in the process) to the very “glamourous” behind the scenes action of a fashion brand.

And even though it’s a few years past now, we would like to talk about what we learnt from his time there.

#1 – In Store Engagement

In today’s very competitive fashion retail market, that old model of “the product sells itself” rarely applies anymore. For someone to work in a fashion store, to simply stand there, smile and do nothing else is no longer enough to meet the very tough KPIs and sales targets of any store. Go up to the customer, don’t just make small talk. Ask interesting questions, initiate a conversation that’s relevant to the brand, the store, to the customer, and you may be able to gain some insight into why she’s out shopping, what she’s looking for, if she’ll buy and the ultimate question, if she’ll buy today, right now and from you.


#2 – Online Engagement and Visibility

About 30% of the work that’s needed to help sales assistants sell inside the store is done OUTSIDE of the store. We’re not talking the big marketing or social media campaigns done at head office level. We’re talking the individual online research, activities that the individual retail sales person MUST do outside of work, to get the conversation, interest going about the fashion brand. His or her efforts may not be measurable, but there’s surely greater collective visibility and exposure for the fashion brand if every sales assistant makes an effort to initiate a conversation online or on social media. Below are some examples of our Creative Director’s initiatives.


#3 – Visual Aids

Certain shops may not allow you to use your mobile phone while working on the shop floor, but if it’s permissible, your mobile phone is a great visual aid especially if you use it to download fashion images or models, celebrities, bags and accessories that are going to help you sell the clothes in your store.

For the dresses, he’s taken pictures pairing them with accessories that help to style and elevate the look, thereby giving the dresses greater appeal, value for money. Yes, people are buying a dress, but they want to think that they’re getting more than just a dress.



A tweed jacket or dress is just that, but when you match it with heavy duty necklaces like below, you’re getting a tweed jacket that’s closer to a Chanel one. Good value for money right?

#4 – Speaking the customer’s language

Let’s be honest, it’s common knowledge almost everywhere in the world, not just in Melbourne or in Australia, that the Chinese are the biggest shoppers, spenders. In the recent trips that our Creative Director made to Italy, he’s been approached by Westerners that are able to speak fluent Mandarin.

#5 – The customer definitely isn’t always right, when they’re bullies

OMG we’ve indeed bred a generation of over-privileged shoppers that are nothing short of divas, spoilt brat princesses that really need to be indoctrinated with some proper manners.

#6 – Some shopper profiles are more genuine than others

It does take experience, but it’s actually possible to predict or make an intelligent guess just by looking at someone, specifically what they are wearing, they way the move, talk etc. to determine if they’re a genuine buyer.

#7 – How to deal with cheapskates

You almost need to rehearse your comeback lines to the lamest of questions from cheapskates such as:

  • “When will this go on sale?” or “Will it be cheaper on Boxing Day/Black Friday?”
  • “Can I get a refund if I change my mind?” – Answer is No.
  • “It’s more than what I’m prepared to pay, can you reduce the price?”
  • “Yes, it’s at 20% off, but can you make it 50% off?”
  • “If I buy more than one item, can I get a discount?”
  • This is the worst of the worst, “I know staff have a staff discount, can you give  me that discount?”

So, the reply to all of the above, is in plain English, No, but it’s heaps of fun saying that in different words while shaming them. The cheeky way, with a forced laugh, is to say “we won’t make any money, if we did!”

The blunt way is to say, “we run a business here, we need to make money to cover our wages, how do you think we get to work here?”

#8 – How to sell more during sale periods

The trick is to avoid using the word “cheap”. It’s already understood, that during a sale, things are cheap, but by repeating it too often, it just “cheapens” the clothes further. Say “good value” or “you get so much more than what you would normally pay for when they’re full price”.

#9 – Remember your good/top customers, never forget the psychotic ones

Because your good ones are the ones that keep you sane and away from getting therapy, their kindness, good spirits and humanity remind you that good people still exists; the bad ones so you know when to call security when you see them approaching.

#10 – Just sell, sell, sell

Easier said than done, when we figure out how to do this, we’ll let you know!


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