How to Sell Accessories

This Guide is the Online Version of the How to Sell Accessories Guidedistributed to schools and retailers over the last 30 years.

Inside this guide…


– Care Tips,Selling , Display
– Glossary of Terms & Materials
– Accessories Styles & Descriptions




Care Tips, Selling Accessories,  Store Display Tips.

You’re the accessory authority to your customer, who will appreciate advice on how to keep that new purchase looking great.

Chapter I – Care Tips
Some guidelines:

Although often made of the same materials as shoes, handbags, personal accessories, luggage and belts require a minimum of care, because they don’t take the kind of beating shoes do.

Dirt can usually be wiped off leather and exotic skin bags and personal accessories with a clean, barely moist cloth. Saddle soap is not recommended, as it may remove the natural oils. A leather cream used sparingly enriches gloves and accessories; if it’s a transparent cream, there’s no danger of rubbing off on clothes.

A brush raises the nap and removes dust from suede items. New suedes are subject to”crocking”, which means suede dust may rub off on hands and clothes. Crocking can be minimized by rubbing any new suede bag or accessory vigorously with a terry towel.

If suede or leather gets wet or rainspotted, empty the item, stuff it with tissue and let it dry at room temperature. After suede dries, brushing it with a terry towel will restore its appearance.

Umbrellas when wet should be dried open. Never store an umbrella when wet…chances of mildew are great!

Handbags and luggage or synthetic materials can be wiped clean with soap and water. Patent finishes on leather or synthetics also wipe clean.

New fabric handbags, luggage or personal accessories can be treated with a spray-on stain repellent. Spot removers will pick up surface dirt.

When storing your accessories, they should not be allowed to come into contact with one another, as some finishes may stick together. The best wrap for all kinds of accessories is tissue paper, not plastic bags. Avoid storing in extremes of heat, humidity, dryness or cold. This applies to leather gloves as well. If repairs are necessary, have them done immediately to avoid further damage to the accessory.


Chapter 2- Selling

Be A Pro…

As an “Accessory Pro ” your job goes far beyond supplying your customer with the accessories he or she is looking for. You are your store’s direct representative to the public; a customer may base his or her entire impression of the store on the courtesy, attention and knowledge you show them.

Skill as a sales person, like any other skill is developed with practice and time. Your customer will turn to you to find out what is new and fashion right. Knowledge and enthusiasm are the assets which will make you a success.

Making the Sale:

Selling accessories starts before your customer ever gets into the store, with care of stock and displays. Clean, attractively displayed merchandise catches the eye, and when your stock is in order, you’re free to concentrate on your customer.

Dust shelves and merchandise daily. Polish hardware on bags, luggage, belts to remove fingerprints caused by handling. Replace damaged or shabby merchandise at once.

The Approach:

Shoppers are guests in the store. When a customer is waiting, stop all stock work and conversation with other salespeople. Greet your customer courteously and cheerfully. If you’re busy with another customer, assure the person who’s waiting that you will be with them shortly.

The usual “May I help you” is a weak opening which usually draws the response, “No thank you, I’m just looking”. A remark which refers directly to your merchandise may be more productive.
For example:

“Good Morning. The latest fashion styles are all in stock.”
“Hello. The belt you’re looking at is on sale today. ”
“Hi. The scarf in your hand would be a great accent for the dress you’re wearing.”
“Hello. That’s a great new bag. There are three pockets, a keychain and a mirror inside!”
“Hi. That umbrella would make a wonderful gift.”

Then follow the customer’s lead. If they make it clear they want to look around without your help, don’t push.

Determine Customer Needs:

When the customer wants assistance, look at her, then show accessories that suits her age and apparent taste. Watch her face to judge reaction to each accessory you show.

Customers have different concepts of quality: for example, a “good” bag can mean a $10 or $125 item. Start with something in your middle price range, then you may be able to trade up by telling your customer why a better accessory is a better investment…longer lasting, more prestigious, better looking.

Give a choice in price, color, style and material. Three accessories in a particular category is a good number to look at, at one time. If you bring out a fourth, ask if you can remove the one in which the customer is apparently least interested. (Your job will be simpler if you always return the merchandise immediately to the proper spot). Use your own good style sense, especially with regard to proportion…don’t try to sell a tiny bag to a heavy customer. But don’t discourage the woman who is obviously satisfied with her choice even if it doesn’t suit your taste.

Demonstrate and Explain:

Before showing a bag to a customer, check to see that all fittings are in and that zippers and other closures work. This goes for personal accessories, umbrellas and luggage as well. Show merchandise in a clean, uncluttered area. Open the handbag, personal accessories, luggage or umbrellas for your customer and demonstrate fastenings and locks. (If a customer tries to open a tricky clasp and fails, they may put the accessory aside. Show the inside of a well-made bag or the lining of a leather glove. Explain that, just as workmanship in hemming and seaming separate the good dress from the bad, an interior finish is often the clue to the  quality of an accessory. Let the customer handle the article. Ask if they would like to try it on in front of a full-length mirror in order to judge its effects against their silhouette. If the customer is a male, suggest that you try it on for him.

Your Selling Vocabulary:

Words like nice, pretty, and cute carry little conviction. Build a vocabulary of descriptive terms which convey the fashion power of your merchandise:
Distinctive, Striking, Sporty, Sophisticated, Tasteful, Dramatic, Exquisite, Youthful, Fresh, Durable, Elegant, Tailored, Simulated (never imitation).

Closing the Sale:

Speak with conviction and enthusiasm and use your knowledge of accessories as a selling tool. Whether you’re selling an $8 handbag or a $175 bag, a $5 accessory or a $50 accessory, single out the feature which makes the item special.

If it’s a handbag, does it have a convertible or detachable strap? Are there inside compartments, hidden pockets, a separate change purse? What are the advantages of this particular length glove over some of the others your customer has already seen. Single out and emphasize these points.

Show your customer several examples of the style she wants. Then as she begins to show a preference, concentrate on the features of that accessory. When you think her mind is made up, you may be able to close the sale with a question: “Do you think this is the one you want?”

Once your customer has selected her accessory, it may be possible to convert the initial sale into two by making a thoughtful and specific suggestion. If the customer has chosen a bag, show a tote that coordinates with the bag she has just picked out. Or suggest a good wallet, gloves, or a lovely scarf to coordinate.

After the sale, thank the customer. Reassure her that she has made an excellent selection. “I hope you will enjoy your purchases…they really look stunning,” or “It’s a wonderful gift, I’m sure she will love it, “are the words she’d like to hear.




Chapter 2- Display


Display is defined as a way to present a view but, if it is used effectively, display can be a whole lot more…

How Effective Are Displays:
In most department and specialty stores, your average customer is generally in a hurry when she enters the store…the customer walks through at a rate of six feet per second especially where accessories are concerned.

Handbags, luggage, and personal accessories, unlike other accessories, are not an impulse item for her. She is likely to buy one, either because it’s the season, she needs to replace an old one, or in the case of handbags, because she has a special outfit to coordinate. The male customer is interested in a gift item, an accessory to lift his spirits or replacing an old worn out briefcase, wallet or umbrella for himself.

The way to stimulate accessory buying is through display. Take that speedy customer who has just gone past the handbags department, scurrying off to buy a blouse, or a customer who has just purchased several pair of fashion shoes. Your handbags are displayed on waterfalls in the front, back or side of your store or, if you are a department store, downstairs or in the back. Unfortunately, your customer has no idea that you have a bag or two that will look wonderful with her purchase. If you had a coordinated display within eye distance for your customer, your chances of making an additional sale would be four times greater than without.

What about space:
You don’t need a tremendous amount of space to create a visually appealing display. In fact, the smaller the better. The one thing that you should remember is to create an idea, a working theme that can be carried throughout your department or store.

Create a “one-stop-shopping center” for your customer, capitalize on your customer’s keen interest, whether it is fashion forward trending in colors, her lifestyle or her need for function or his gift-giving dilemma.

Build displays that are relatively inexpensive but eye appealing. Plastic milk cartons, plain cardboard boxes, rocks, beach balls, children’s plastic pails are some props you can use. All come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors and can easily be changed to fit nicely in the available space designed within your store. They can be used together or separately in the window, or on the selling floor.

Use these props to capitalize on specific concepts such as:

By using color effectively, a woman can alter her wardrobe, change her mood, and give herself a lift. Color is also an eye catcher. It is the easiest way to lure a customer into your store. Use the brightest, most tantalizing colors of handbags, gloves, hats, shoes, belts together and create a wonderful paintbox!

Embossing, fur, snakeskin, reptiles or jewels, all interact together to create interest. Coordinate
accessories according to their surface interest, creating a story or a look.

Lifestyle is your customer’s mode of dressing. Whoever your customer is, create a display just for her. Using the props we just spoke about, create a dressy story, as well as one for the career minded individual and a third for the funky-fun active customer. Group them together or individually. Try and get the most mileage from your display.

But, display doesn’t have to stop here with your department’s display…accessorized displays should be carried throughout the store and into the store windows as well. Here is where you pull your customer into the store, you entice her, you lure her. Utilizing lifestyles, colors, textures, seasons, create displays that are eye-catching, message sending and relative to your customer.

Change your displays often, at least every two to three weeks. Keep your customers interested in what’s coming…what’s new.




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