SALESFLOOR | November 2019

Retailer in the Holiday Spotlight: Peruvian Connection

This holiday season, we’ve partnered with Peruvian Connection to find out how they prepare for the holiday season. We interviewed Kay Moini, Vice President of Retail to learn more about customer expectations, holiday trends and strategies for success. From having their founder visit their retail locations to tell her story, to providing customer-centered holiday specials and remaining loyal to their focus on sustainable initiatives, they’ve got it all covered. Read below for more.

Salesfloor: How does Peruvian Connection prepare stores and associates for the holiday season?

Kay Moini, VP Retail, Peruvian Connection:
Before the holiday season begins, our store associates participate in an in-depth product review where they see and touch the upcoming collection, ask questions, and learn the stand-out details for each piece. Special details seen in our 2019 Holiday Collection, for example, include handpainted yarns, hand-knit accessories, and sustainably-sourced fur.

Weaving this craftsmanship into our collection is how we’re able to support traditional textile techniques in Peru while maintaining long-standing relationships with local artisans. Our associates need to have a solid understanding of this relationship year-round, but it’s particularly important during the holiday season when we see an influx of new customers.

During the holiday season, we also increase our efforts to make our customers’ lives as easy as possible. We know they’re under extra pressure, so we try to go above and beyond by offering to ship products to their home if necessary, provide beautiful gift wrap, and we even offer one-on-one assistance with gift lists and styling advice. We give customers the ability to connect with store associates by text, e-mail, live chat or social media to enhance the customer experience whether online or in-store.

Salesfloor: How do customers’ shopping habits change during the holidays?

Kay Moini, VP Retail, Peruvian Connection:
During other times of the year our customers are typically shopping for themselves; however, throughout the holiday season they’re suddenly juggling shopping lists for anywhere between a handful and dozens of friends and loved ones. They may exhibit more doubt or confusion over what to buy the people on their list, so our associates are prepared to educate them about why our products are uniquely luxurious and who they may be a good fit for. As.

As we near the end of December, it’s also common to see customers who are more rushed – they only have a certain number of days to wrap everything up! At this point, we try to be extra attentive so they’re able to be as efficient as possible. It’s also very important to keep the store super organized this time of year so that a rushed customer can come inside, quickly find what they need, and have a positive, stress-free experience.

Salesfloor: What are customers looking for this holiday season: deals, convenience, experiences?

Kay Moini, VP Retail, Peruvian Connection:
During the holiday season, we have to be prepared to cater to a wide variety of shopping preferences. Some customers want to attend luxury holiday shopping events – complete with wine and canapes and the whole experience. Others want to come in, quietly find a few items on their list, and move on to the next store. To honor these different preferences, we really increase our listening and provide opportunities for every type of shopper. We also employ clienteling tools that allow our store associates to deliver personalized service both in store and online.

For the experiential shopper, we enhance the holiday spirit with festive windows, seasonal music, and we’ll sometimes even serve holiday treats. We want everyone who enters our store to feel welcome and taken care of. We even provide comfortable seating for those who may need to take a break and put their feet up!

Our customers are typically looking for unique, luxury gifts that help support artisan communities.

Salesfloor: What are some creative ways you have used to attract consumers/ generate traffic both in-store and online during the holidays?

Kay Moini, VP Retail, Peruvian Connection:
We are fortunate to have a deeply inspiring founder, Annie Hurlbut, and this season we’ve been hosting holiday shopping events that give customers the chance to meet Annie in person and hear her story. Annie founded Peruvian Connection in 1976 after studying anthropology at Yale, and she has since dedicated her life to sustaining artisanal textile traditions in Peru. Throughout this holiday season, Annie will visit some of our retail locations to meet local customers and tell the brand’s story.

Another way we like to generate in-store traffic is to team up with a local artist or pop-up brand. For example, we have an upcoming event in London in partnership with a renowned Peruvian Photographer, José Tio.

We also put a lot of hard work and pride into our window displays, which invite passing shoppers to come inside and experience the Peruvian Connection world. We make sure that any current promotions are clearly presented in our windows to help educate those passing by about current deals worth investigating.

Online, we primarily use weekly newsletters and daily social media posts to promote the new collection and share current holiday savings, free shipping offers, etc.

Salesfloor: What is the biggest challenge retailers experience during the holidays?

Kay Moini, VP Retail, Peruvian Connection:
Because we have a slow fashion model, our biggest challenge is keeping our handcrafted, artisan-made pieces in stock during such a busy time of year. It takes months of hands-on time to create some of our signature pieces, so we have to start planning for the holiday season well in advance. We certainly learned this lesson the year Kate Middleton wore our Vallnord Alpaca Fur Hat on Christmas day and sales absolutely skyrocketed! We want to make sure that customers aren’t disappointed if their item of choice is no-longer available, and therefore last-minute shoppers can always be a challenge for retailers during the holidays.

Salesfloor: Why is it important for your store associates to connect with customers this holiday season?

Kay Moini, VP Retail, Peruvian Connection:
It’s important that our associates connect with customers during the holiday season so shoppers understand who Peruvian Connection is as a company. Giving associates the tools to communicate with customers beyond the store (whether by e-mail, text, live chat or other) helps us achieve this goal.

We pride ourselves in being uniquely made artisan apparel, so each item has an incredible backstory about how it was inspired by global textile traditions, sourced from the most luxurious Andean fibers. With this information in hand, our customers will better appreciate our pricing structure and be more empowered to support a humane and sustainable fashion industry.

Salesfloor: What are some holiday experiences that associates have had that stand out to you?

Kay Moini, VP Retail, Peruvian Connection:
All of our associates’ favorite stories stem from helping customers make memories. We love making peoples’ wishes come true, and we’ll always go above and beyond for something special. For example, we once had a customer come in looking for a sold-out dress from a past collection – she wanted to get married in it! Our associates went on a massive journey to track down a remaining dress in her size, and we ultimately helped her feel beautiful and confident on her big day.

As a clothing company – we’re directly present for peoples’ biggest moments in life. Any time an associate is able to help a customer feel beautiful on a big, memorable day is a stand-out experience.

Salesfloor: What holiday trends have you noticed in the past years?

Kay Moini, VP Retail, Peruvian Connection:
We’ve noticed a trend of businesses partnering with charities and non-profits since the season of giving is the perfect opportunity to provide customers with a chance to support important causes. This year, we’ve partnered with Dress for Success for #GivingTuesday and have renewed our annual donations with Pro Mujer, a micro-financing program for Latin American women.

ABOUT PERUVIAN CONNECTION

While researching anthropology in Peru, Annie Hurlbut Zander fell in love with extraordinary hand-woven mantas and ponchos that she discovered in the markets of Cuzco. Fascinated by these ethnographic textiles, she began collecting them, learning everything she could about the spinning and dyeing of the alpaca fibers, the warp-faced weaving techniques and the ancient textile traditions of the Andes.

Since launching in 1976, Peruvian Connection (www.peruvianconnection.com) has grown into an internationally renowned brand for luxury Peruvian textiles and fibers with 7 stores, full of artisan-made garments expanding 5 collections per year. Since the first alpaca sweater, the original vision remains: to offer artisan-made designs in indigenous Andean luxury fibers. Each piece is a celebration of ethnographic textiles from around the world, made by skilled artisans whose art form will continue to be a time-honored tradition with Peruvian Connection. Alpaca remains the constant thread throughout each collection, as we continue to support and preserve the most luxurious Peruvian fibers.