A Hong Kong fashion retailer and icon is now looking for a professional customer services workforce to staff a concept store designed to deliver a brand-new shopping experience to its high-end customers.
Giordano Concepts appeals to a rather sophisticated and affluent market segment and emphasises quality lifestyle and individuality in fashion.
Donald Wong, regional operations manager, who currently supervises Giordano Concepts, says individuality and dress-up casuals are now emerging as mega fashion trends. Male customers constitute a large market segment for this fashion style — the driving market force behind the birth of the new concept store.
Giordano Concepts differentiates itself by its unique "dress up casual" and "sophisticated" image which is not only projected in its product offerings but also extends to the store interior decorations, corporate identity and staff image.
The concept stores feature exclusive designs and limited editions while in-store decorations exhibit more dramatic window displays with a greater emphasis on mix-and-match and subtle colour to inspire customers and convey the new "dress up casual" attitude of their updated collections.
To build on its unique persona, frontline staff receive professional image and serving training. As well, the store is a major sponsor of this year's Hong Kong International Film Festival — a marketing effort to widen its reach to its major target segment, which is the younger generation looking for a quality lifestyle.
The first Giordano Concepts store opened in Mongkok in October 2006, and was followed by stores in Tsim Sha Tsui, Causeway Bay and SkyPlaza in Terminal 2 at Chek Lap Kok. Ms Wong says, "The company will focus on mainland and overseas expansion this year, with store openings in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing, Singapore and Taiwan."
Requirements and training
To meet future development plans, Ms Wong says the concept stores have already employed a unique team of fashion designers and marketing staff, and they are now looking for frontline people like customer service associates who play a dominant part in establishing customer relationships. She adds that it is the company's current practice to employ an equal number of part-time and full-time staff although the concept stores are moving toward an emphasis on full-time employees.
Customer service associate recruits should be presentable, have a good attitude, be positive thinkers, possess skills in more than one language and love teamwork. They must especially enjoy serving people. The company will provide them training that includes make-up, manner and hairstyle, selling techniques, language and presentation skills. Frontline staff are also offered art and cultural activities such as book and movie reviews, while visual merchandise training is selectively provided for those who show an interest in it.
The career path for customer service associates at Giordano Concepts is similar to that at other regular stores. Work performance rather than years of experience will be a significant factor in determining promotion. In general, new recruits start out as customer service associates, followed by promotion to senior customer service associate, assistant manager and shop manager. Ms Wong points out, "Employees are provided with an encouraging remuneration package that includes basic salary and commission."
As Giordano Concepts is now in its initial stage of development, Ms Wong's priority is to provide quality services and products and reinforce its new company image and identity. Staff training and development is also a priority since newly recruited customer service associates must serve as customer consultants rather than shop assistants.
With more overseas branded-labels developing footholds in the Hong Kong market, she foresees more challenges for local fashion retailers in product development, staff recruitment and retention. To industry practitioners, this represents opportunities for career growth. Accordingly, Ms Wong concludes, "New recruits who can give customers better service and continuously improve their work quality, have very good career prospects in this industry."