OPINION: Training Men

We asked the winner of our mystery male shopper survey to provide advice on how retailers can best serve their male customers. Ann Summers retail director Debbie Morgan gives her opinion on the topic.

“Now there’s nothing quite so unsettling when serving a male customer in a lingerie store over Christmas as his response to the question, ‘do you know her bra size?’. With this the nervous, or at least confused, chap is prone to casting a furtive glance over the member of staff’s chest, making a random hand movement as if checking out airborne oranges, and declaring that she’s a bit smaller than you, but a bit bigger than the girl at the till.
Occasionally, a real gem walks into the store. He’s had a rummage in his girlfriend’s or wife’s drawer and proudly announces that she’s a 34C, but forgot to check the size of the matching knickers. But these well informed souls are far and few between and, at Ann Summers, we are more likely to be dealing with the former for the two weeks before Christmas and Valentines Day.
As the High Street’s sexiest lingerie store, we become a hot destination for men over these peak weeks. Our staff are trained to look for confused male shoppers and have them leave with the right size and style of lingerie, guaranteed to delight the recipient.
Remember the famous lingerie floor in the department store sketch of Father Ted? We aim to make our stores and our staff as welcoming for men as women and our staff will help demystify the process of the annual lingerie buying ‘ordeal’ for every male customer.
So, what’s the trick? Firstly, the approach. Staff need to read the customer’s body language and if he wants to be left alone for a while, our staff will do just that.
Secondly, our visual merchandising principles should make it as easy as possible for male customers to navigate their way around the store. Want sexy? It’s signposted. Something for the bedroom? There’s a destination for that.
Thirdly, sizing. Our staff are trained bra fitters, but are also highly adept at translating the inevitable hand signals and more than happy to help the customer identify a member of staff in store who is ‘about the same size’ as his wife or girlfriend.
Fourthly, refunds and exchanges. The male customer needs to know that if he gets it wrong, she can return the items for something that fits.
And, finally, if all else fails, a sexy gift card so she can choose what she wants when she wants it.
We’ve seen men who literally build up to a visit into our stores, having walked past the window for the previous 20 minutes. To our staff, there’s nothing more satisfying than having a man leave the store with a great gift, already wrapped, in the right size.
Great service leads to repeat custom. That’s why we see the same men return year after year.
So, whether it’s red or black lace, sexy accessories, bedroom or dress up, we know at Ann Summers we have the product and the service to delight our male customers and their women.”

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