Q&A: Tallulah Lingerie reveals how independents can exist alongside online and department stores

Owners of independent lingerie stores should avoid copying stock from department stores in order to thrive on the UK’s high streets, claims Tallulah Lingerie founder.

The store’s owner and founder, Nicola Adams, tells Lingerie how she has managed to thrive in challenging retail conditions and develop Tallulah Lingerie’s reputation as a destination lingerie retailer.

What sorts of challenges does the bricks and mortar element of the business face?

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Challenges are getting people into the shop because obviously it is so online now and people want everything instantly but it means walking to the shop, ringing the bell, coming in and that’s really our biggest challenge, it’s getting people up from behind their computer screens, or even their phones.

People come into store to do their research and then they buy it cheaper from somewhere else online, what is your experience with this pattern?

We don’t get it so much but you can tell, when someone comes in for a fitting and they’re going to see if they can get it cheaper online because nine times out of ten you can get it cheaper online, we’re never knowingly undersold as John Lewis maybe is,

They come in and they abuse us almost, used us for the fitting knowledge to make sure it fits and then they go off and order it online, it’s really cheeky. They have still had a really nice experience but not paid for it. Not that they should pay for the experience but they have not given us anything back, we’re just giving and giving and giving.

How do you go about creating an experience that makes people want to make the purchase in store?

Anyone that comes through the door we’re grateful for anyway because we have got that great big barrier in the way between us and them.

Once we’re in the fitting rooms we will then suggest other things once we have seen which shape suits them, so we will try to go an extra step further that they’re not going to get in another shop, offer them tea if they’re in for a while, just that extra thing that department stores don’t do and you definitely can’t get online.

What sort of role does your online presence play in the business?

Instagram plays a massive role. It is basically people see pictures, we don’t actually have a physical conversation, sometimes we do but it’s more you’re messaging them, sending little videos, they hear my voice, so they’re still getting that extra personal touch that you’re not going to get just ordering it online.

A lot of our customers have been in once and then they live abroad, but we do also send to all over the world to customer who have found us on Instagram, we do still try to do some sort of fitting with them via video, so we just do that extra bit because Instagram is the way forward for us as our online platform.

What sort of factors determine which stock you bring into store?

Generally we don’t follow trends because that’s going to be like every other shop. There some independent brands that you can’t get everywhere but there are some you can get in department stores so if we bought what they bought, which was the trend, we’re not really offering anything different. So I generally, as a rule, try not to.

Customers are more aware of things like disposable fashion that which I’m really pleased about, it’s more conscious spending, not less is more.

Victoria’s Secret’s CEO said bricks and mortar is going to be the future of retail, online’s heyday is supposedly disappearing and in the imminent future no one is going to trust online. What do you think?

In an ideal world that’s what all us bricks and mortar retailers want to happen anyway, I honestly I have never bought into the online. I strongly believe there are enough customers that want that real experience, they want face to face interaction. They want to be able to have talks like this, I completely agree and I really hope it does happen because it’s such a nicer way to live life and to talk to people, go out any swing your bag.

Councils are not supporting the local community and they should be, it’s expensive to park here and the council should be encouraging customers to come to Islington to spend their money.

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