Staying competitive in the retail business takes strategies and innovation. Leading apparel brand Bossini, with retail stores and franchises throughout Greater China, has recently launched a new sales and marketing strategy, integrating a "family store" concept into its retail chain in Hong Kong.
"It has been 20 years since the first Bossini retail outlet was set up. Over time we have expanded our operations to cover about 20 countries and regions. We believe it's high time we consolidated our strengths and refreshed our brand image since the world, especially the Greater China region, has undergone enormous changes," explains Linda Tam, director of sales and marketing, Bossini Enterprises Limited.
Bossini is renowned for its colourful, comfortable and energetic style that is easy to mix-and-match. According to Ms Tam, the company has started to extend its product portfolio to cater to the needs of the whole family. For example, its street-level flagship store in Mong Kok that covered apparel for men, women and children, has now expanded into a three-storey store that also offers maternity wear and an assortment of accessories.
"The change was a carefully-devised strategy that we planned about two years ago. Mong Kok is our first "family store" in Hong Kong and more are underway. We hope to give customers a comfortable and convenient shopping experience," says Ms Tam.
To align with the new direction, Bossini also launched a new company logo designed locally. While the brand name remains a part of the design, the logo now includes a drawing that incorporates the images of a desk lamp and a tree. "The colour green gives people a fresh and natural feeling," Ms Tam says. "It is also associated with the beauty of nature and environmentalism. As for the desk lamp, it's a symbol of family because the lamp is a household necessity."
The design of the store also reflects the evolving values of the company. The outer walls are dominated by large windows and the colour green, delivering transparency and natural light to the interior. On entering, customers are embraced in a warm and spacious setting of natural colours, again with green at the forefront.
At Bossini employees and customers are equally important. "We are a people-oriented company. We allocate lots of resources to staff training because we want our staff to keep abreast of developments in society and the company," says Ms Tam. To encourage this, basic training provided for frontline sales staff includes sales techniques, and language and communication skills.
"Training is also provided on demand. For instance, to better equip staff with new knowledge required in the family store, we invited child psychologists to give lectures to our staff so that they can understand and serve customers better," Ms Tam adds.
In addition to frontline sales, Bossini offers many opportunities for those seeking to join the retail apparel industry. The company has been running a retail trainee management programme for many years. The 12-month programme aims at helping recruits become retail operations professionals. Management trainees are actively involved in special projects and assignments requiring interaction with the different departments, including the opportunity to work with counterparts on the mainland.
Would-be management trainees must hold a degree or diploma and have less than two years work experience. "We are looking for a generalist instead of a specialist in this position as the person needs to be multi-skilled and be able to look at things from different perspectives," Ms Tam says.
She stresses that qualifications are not the most important factor in building a successful career in the retail apparel industry. "It is a prerequisite to have a passion for fashion to excel in this industry. You have to pay attention to trends such as what rivals are doing and in what way the tastes of consumers are shifting. Whether you work in frontline sales or administration, you have to be proactive and hardworking with a heart to serve others," Ms Tam concludes.