“Raymond: I am a personal shopper at Neiman Marcus”. This is the first sentence Raymond said to me when we first met at Neiman Marcus, and also the first sentence he said at the beginning of our interview. Christmas is on its way. His working place—Neiman Marcus, which is located near Union Square in San Francisco, is full of Christmas atmosphere. A 5 story high Christmas tree stands right in front of the main entrance of Neiman Marcus. Raymond was working with multi-clients and assisting them with different area needs like he always does while I was waiting for him. I asked him how they put this giant tree into the store. He just smiled and said, “Santa did it!”
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Raymond produces the impression of being confident and responsive at the same time. These are some of the qualities that one normally expects from personal shoppers who should be able to understand the needs and preferences of a buyer. If I were a client, I would certainly put my trust in this person, even though I had not worked with him before. This is one of the details that attracted my attention and I could easily explain my initial expressions.
However, later my expectations were fully confirmed. Admittedly, Neiman Marcus is not one of those shops that I attend on a regular basis. Yet, it seems that this retailer is able to create value by providing superior customer service. In turn, the interactions with people like Raymond Hong can be vital for shaping the attitudes of customers and gaining their loyalty. One should keep in mind that Neiman Marcus is a store that contains a wide selection of goods. Sometimes, it is rather difficult for clients to make purchasing decisions. They may require the assistance of people who can identify the strengths and weaknesses of various products.
The Neiman Marcus Group has defined luxury retails company ranked 82 of America’s largest private companies. The company’s mission is to offer the highest standard of customer service. More importantly, this organization strives to offer high-quality fashion products and ensure exceptional shopping experiences. Neiman Marcus has a great reputation for its customer service. They target the U.S middle-upper class and upper-class families. The clients of these organizations represent the most affluent social groups. The potential clients of this retailer live in different countries, but their income level is very high. In October 2013, the revenues of Neiman Marcus numbered $ 4.85 billion.
It should be mentioned that this company provides special offers to clients during the Christmas season. At first, this company offers price discounts to the clients. In particular, it is possible to mention the use of Neiman Marcus Coupons that enable buyers to save 10 percent of their costs. In this way, this organization attempts to attract buyers who may want to present gifts to their relatives or friends.
Additionally, this retailer enables customers to buy rather extravagant goods that are not usually sold in the departments of this store. For example, one can mention tennis tables created by distinguished designer, tailgating wagons, jetpacks, and so forth. In this way, they attempt to surprise clients, and in many cases, this technique can be rather effective. These items are usually called Fantasy Gifts. It should be noted so far the shopping season has been quite successful for Neiman Marcus. This company has been one of the most active shippers during this season (Somerville).
This trend indicates that the sales rates are rather high, even despite the fact that Neiman Marcus retails mostly luxury goods that can be afforded only by affluent clients. Under such circumstances, personal shoppers such as Raymond will play a pivotal role in attracting buyers. Many of the clients are very busy, and they rely on the suggestions offered by such consultants.
Moreover, many customers prefer online shopping due to their tight schedules. In turn, they may consider the opinions of people like Raymond Hong who can help buyers make informed decisions. Additionally, in some cases, these people have to cooperate with designers to support the customization of various fashion goods. This is why their role should not be overlooked.
Raymond was born in Vietnam in 1976, but he grew up in San Francisco. His family immigrated to America when he was 11. He was raised in a Chinese family; his parents are originally from Hainan, which is a south island in China. He has an older brother and a younger sister.
“Raymond is a focused, hardworking, honest, self driven and a great team player”, told Jennifer Byrne when I asked her to describe her best colleagues. Raymond’s family background really shaped his personality. His positive attitude always inspired me when I am having my downside in life. When Raymond first time came to the US, he doesn’t speak English at all. The first goal for him was learning English and fitting into American culture. Now he speaks Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and English.
As a personal shopper for the entire store, he stays in the cosmetics department most of the time. Customers at Neiman Marcus is to cross-sell the entire store. Understanding who is our target audience and providing their needs and wants. Therefore, being a personal shopper requires a full understanding of product knowledge, trend, and personal styling. Having an eye for fashion and luxury goods.
Neiman Marcus employees have the freedom to express their sense of fashion and yet have our standard guideline to stay professional ((Vora)). Raymond turns the suits to be playful and Chic. His suit makes him look rather professional and business-like. Also, he combines old style and new style into the suits he wears every day. The way he expresses his fashion gave the customer the confidence to let him shop for their needs.
Raymond always knows what he wants to learn to improve himself. He attended the Academy of Art University (it used to be named Academy of Art College) in Fashion Design major after he had studied in San Francisco State University for extension study. When he graduated from AAC, he made a couture collection include three couture dresses which he is really proud of.
After graduation, he has worked at Gap, Club Monaco, J.Crew, and Nordstrom. He is also a self-taught Make-up artist. He worked at MAC cosmetics for 6 years. Along his journey in the fashion world, he also has worked for many big cosmetics brands in the industry. He likes to explore his horizon in the fashion and beauty industry. On and off he has been with Neiman Marcus for 15 years. He really felt that this is home—surrounded by the glamours of trendy fashion and beauty products that the industry had to offer.
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Currently, U.S consumers are still limited by the economic recovery. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the total spending from Black Friday to Cyber Monday had declined by 11%, from $57 billion to approximately $50 billion (Grannis and Reynolds). Raymond’s business was facing an inevitable decline too. But it’s life, there are ups and downs. During this period, rather than complaining about the world, Raymond kept blogging about the products in his company. Like the skin-care products, he blogged his reviews about that. He did not brag about the product; he was truthful about recommending the product; he only recommends the product that he actually tried on his skin. This is how he earned the trust of the customer and went through the downside of business.
“If you do not like it, feel free to return it”, Raymond’s said. He always dares to say this to customers. Instead of losing business, his customers keep coming back and ask for his personal advice and help. “The best way to earn trusts is to give them trusts”. This is the rule that Raymond follows when he is dealing with customers.
One should keep in mind that many of the modern retailers rely on personal shoppers in order to retain clients. Very often, these buyers do not focus only on the price of products. More likely, they attach importance to the quality of service (Andre 232). Neiman Marcus is not the only company that has adopted this approach. In many cases, this approach has proved to be rather effective (Andre 232). Thus, one can speak about the new trend in the marketing strategies of many companies. Thus, the visit to Marcus Coupons has been a very informative experience.
It is quite interesting to explore the way in which Raymond interacts with clients who may have different preferences about fashion. In particular, he is able to find an individual approach to a customer, and on average Raymond needs to spend from five to thirty minutes while helping a client. He moves around the department and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each product. I would like to describe his conversation with a wealthy male customer who evidently wanted to make a Christmas present for his beloved.
It is quite clear that this person did not know much about fashion products. Evidently, he did not even know where to look first. In his turn, Raymond was willing to help him choose goods that could best suit the needs of a potential user. Moreover, some female clients just drop in the department to get news about the latest fashion trends. They do not always buy goods; in many cases, they are just interested in the latest news.
This is one of the points that should be taken into account. Furthermore, judging from my observations, I can tell that many of the clients are closely familiar with him. More importantly, they also enjoy spending time with him. One of the things that struck me is that Raymond can easily recollect various products that have been released recently. This ability has produced a very strong impression on me. This example has demonstrated to me that personal shoppers should continuously work on their professional skills. Thus, one should keep in mind that the work of these professionals is rather demanding.
Raymond notes that being responsive is the most important priority for a personal shopper. This person also attaches to integrity which is important for gaining the trust of a client. As it has been said before, Raymond recommends mostly those products that he has already tried. Thus, as a personal buyer, he should avoid a conflict of interest while marketing different goods. These are the main qualities that should be distinguished because they are important for the success of personal shoppers who need to regard the interests of clients as their topmost priority.
It should be mentioned that there are no specific educational requirements for becoming a personal shopper (Winter 13). More likely, this professional should possess a set of attributes that are critical for successful performance. For instance, these people should be knowledgeable about certain products. Moreover, they should be willing to pay attention to the needs of clients. This approach is vital for establishing a rapport with these people.
Moreover, Raymond points out that it is critical to be enthusiastic about one’s job because this worldview is important for personal commitment. Finally, Raymond lays stress on such a quality as resilience to stress and problem-solving skills that enable a person to avoid conflicts. To a great extent, this person has been able to demonstrate how the interpersonal skills of personal shoppers can create value for buyers. This is one of the arguments that can be put forward.
Overall, the conversation with Raymond shows that the experiences of clients profoundly depend on the attitudes and expertise of the shopping assistants. In many cases, these people can profoundly shape the experiences of buyers. Moreover, their work requires much in-depth knowledge of various areas. These are the main themes that can be singled out.
Andre, Mary. Ready To Wear: An Expert’s Guide to Choosing and Using Your Wardrobe, New York: Penguin, 2004. Print.
Grannis, K., and T. Reynolds. “Early Promotions, Online Shopping and Improving Economy Changing the Face of Black Friday Weekend.” NRF. N.p. 2014. Web.
Somerville, Heather. “FedEx, UPS confront busiest holiday season on record.” Contra Costa Times. 2014. Web.
Vora, S. “Personal Shoppers for Women Confused by Makeup – NYTimes.com.” The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. N.p.. 2013. Web.
Winter, Chelsea. Shopping Personally: Your Comprehensive Guide to Becoming a Successful Personal Shopper, New York: SWIC NL, 2014. Print.