Scotti Vaughan first opened her specialty retail shop, Vaughan’s, in Amarillo, Texas in 2011. The local boutique offers women’s fashion and the latest trends. Just this year Vaughan’s moved into an even bigger storefront. Scotti attributes much of her retail success to the overall experience she provides shoppers.
“For me, retail is more than just going to get a quick dress, or a small gift card for a friend’s birthday,” she explains. “Retail is the experience. It’s the smell of the store, the products in the store, and the customer service received. If I have a customer come in and find nothing that they like, I want them to say they will be back because they had a great experience.” No matter how curated your product selection, there will be another store somewhere that sells similar products. Shoppers today aren’t loyal to your products. They are loyal to the experience they have buying from you.
Scotti continues, “My husband and I have always thought, ‘If you provide the best customer service, then your pennies will take care of themselves.’ That is truly the motto that we have lived by throughout our journey as a small business owner. Retail sales is not just selling goods, it’s providing an exceptional service. If you treat your business with this intention you set yourself up with a foundation to grow.”
As such, Vaughan’s goes above and beyond to make their store the most convenient, enjoyable, and personable retail option. This includes offering free gift wrap, personal shopping services, and free local delivery “just to name a few of the ways we serve our customers,” says Scotti. Delivery can sound costly or high-tech. But, the truth is it doesn’t have to be. You can deliver orders after store hours. Or, work with a delivery service like Uber or Postmates to offer delivery on-demand.
In order to reduce customer returns and increase customer satisfaction, Scotti also lets some customers try on merchandise “in the comfort of their own home.” Customers can also comment on Facebook posts to reserve new items. Reserving items via Facebook to pickup and purchase in store is a popular marketing technique used by many local boutiques. It helps generate sales and social media buzz all at the same time, as Facebook users see friends or family interacting with your store. Plus, selling products via Facebook comments provides instant feedback as to whether or not the item is a hit.
Scotti says, “Vickey Hoffman, who owns J. Hoffmans in Lubbock, TX (they taught me everything I know about retail) once said, ‘It’s not about having a store full of inventory, it’s about finding that one thing that people are wanting.’
Even though Scotti focuses heavily on the customer experience, of course having the right products is a big help. In 2019, Scotti says we will see a lot of change from last year’s spring styles. “See you later oversized jackets and off the shoulder tops, you were so 2018.” This year her store is stocking up on a lot of animal prints, wide legged jeans, and bold colors like neons and pastels. “You will also see animal print shoes and top handled handbags making their comeback,” she says.
In addition to providing excellent customer service, announcing and selling new products over Facebook, making home deliveries, and offering flexible try-on periods, Scotti also hosts two major sales each year to help move any sluggish merchandise and make room for new products. “I do a sale in January and then a sale in July.” So, they just finished up clearing out winter merchandise to make room for spring.
But, sometimes another sale or two always sneaks into the mix. Scotti says, “Sometimes, I get a wild hare and will do a flash sale on certain merchandise or the entire store.” Flash sales and special events are a fun and effective advertising strategy. “My favorite is to serve mimosas around Easter and do an Easter Egg drawing. One egg could have 10% off your purchase or you could get the lucky egg with 75% off your purchase.”
Scotti opened Vaughan’s in 2011, right in the middle of a recession. But Scotti never questioned her decision. “Being 31, people questioned me about becoming a business owner, much less in retail.” Scotti says many people warned her that “retail sales are so hard” and that “retail is a lot of work and a lot of hours.” But, Scotti says “I truly believe in my heart that anything is possible and sometimes the only thing that is holding you back from your dreams is you. You have to take a leap of faith and dive on in.”
7606 SW 45th Ave. Suite 300