Debenhams’ lingerie division has trained 180 staff on its new bra fit process and services proposition as part of the Debenhams Redesigned strategy.
Employees across nine stores visited Debenhams’ London headquarters for an intense bra fitting course last year.
“I believe that the best in class service would be fitting without a tape measure because that’s what a boutique would do and we should be offering the service of a boutique. There’s about nine stores that have been trained to do that,” said Sharon Webb, Debenhams’ head of buying and design for lingerie.
“We gave the staff really intense training and it was hard work but really, really rewarding. They all came here and my entire team was involved – the buyers did product knowledge sessions and consultants supported us in specialist fits.
“We drummed home the message that fit and service is paramount because we can give them the best product, but at the end of the day it comes down to the staff on the shop floor to sell it.”
Debenhams’ Basildon, Chelmsford, Lakeside, Leeds, Milton Keynes, Southend, Stevenage, Romford and Westfield stores all received training, and six of these stores hired extra staff to deliver this service.
Leeds, Milton Keynes and Stevenage stores have also been fitted with new fitting room suites and a meet and greet desk where customers can reserve a fitting in advance. They are also trialling an online booking tool.
“With this tool, we can retain customer details, communicate with them and the next time they come in we can personalise their service a little bit more,” explained Webb.
The lingerie division is now in the process of reviewing the performance of stores that have received new fitting suites, training and/or extra staff.
“We are learning all of our trials at the moment. My challenge now is tweaking and fine-tuning and cascading. We are now in a place where someone could go to one store and have once experience and another store and have another experience, but we need to test our services,” Webb added.
The trials are being conducted as part of Debenhams Redesigned, a new strategy introduced by CEO Sergio Bucher last April to position the struggling department store chain as the leader in ‘Social Shopping’ by presenting a revised product offering and new services and experiences both online and in store.
As industry data has confirmed, 2016/17 was a tough year for retail and Debenhams continued to see volatility month on month. As a result, the retailer began to build foundations for longer term growth by becoming a ‘Destination, Digital and Different’.
Read the full interview with Sharon Webb in the February edition of Lingerie Insight, out next month.