Carlotta Antonini, owner of Surplustore, a recently opened concept store in Rome, knows about the importance -and difficulties- of communicating with your customers in a meaningful way. We speak to Antonini about shopping behaviours, bestsellers and how to create an interesting brand mix.
What are your current bestsellers and why?
I opened this new concept store in March 2016, moving my previous store from the more peripheral Ponte Milvio area to this more central and commercial area. This new shop measures 500 sq. meters and, in addition to selling research fashion brands, we also host a hairdresser, a restaurant and an area for customizing motorcycles. All these activities recall visitors that may pass by for checking some apparel or for lunch and then may decide to have their hair cut. The apparel brands that sell best here are Nouveau, Garage, Tela, So De Luxe, Alesandro Legora and Erendirà - all innovative and not renowned – as well as collaboration sneaker capsule collections by Adidas, Reebok and Asics.
We like to offer rather unknown brands differently from other stores that more or less sell all the same products. As I am a sort of newcomer to this business I choose products that give me emotions and are rather unknown brands. I prefer top quality products, almost all made in Italy, but not necessarily highly priced – another key aspect in my store philosophy. My product selection is wide and clients can also buy a silk shirt at an affordable price, as many of them are young people with small budgets, as not many of them are working yet.
Do people buy according to their favorite brand, style, or impulse?
They are mostly guided by emotions because they visit us maybe for lunch or dinner and then may have a look around and buy some clothes. Those who enter here enter because they feel at ease. And when customers feel fine you can be sure they will also make purchases here as they trust you and what you offer them. They can feel free to enter here until late as we stay open until late 12 pm.
Where do you order from? How do you inform yourself about trends?
We mostly learn through social networks but also through our work of research. I always discover new companies and brands. I prefer the unknown companies rather than focusing on renowned trends. I visit trade shows in Milan, Florence and Paris, but also like to visit cities and see new shops and trends.
How important is the communication with regular customers? How do you communicate with them?
Communicating is the hardest task. Choosing what to keep in your store is rather the easiest part of my job. You have to be able to convey a mood and a feeling and in a way you have to become like a blogger for your client, you have to advise them, suggest how to mix and match products. We are also working in order to create our own blog and e-commerce platform that will go on-line by end 2016 or beginning 2017. Such a website can help giving information and explaining more and better establish a relationship. We also organize some events. For instance we hosted a fashion show-event presenting beachwear by Elisabetta Sammarco and the made in Italy line of Almala bags. Models moved through the store and people could see products from near and ask information about them. That event helped a lot as we sold very well that night.
How do the collections you offer for next fall/winter look like? What are the most important trends, in general?
There is a strong return to blue, but also a comeback of corduroy, especially for trousers and bib'n'braces. Coats and skirt-trousers will be very hot.
Did you add any new labels to your assortment?
We have just introduced the Jil Sanders Navy apparel and footwear lines.
How does your store differ from other stores?
What differentiates us most is how our store is structured and how people are involved through all of our services and product selection. As we offer different services we are not simply a fashion store.
What do you like about your customers?
I like how receptive and open-minded they are. Our format is a particular one and they immediately understood how much they can find here. We didn't make any market survey before we opened this shop. In this area, in addition to various offices there are also many fashion stores. We understood they would have sensed how different we are.
How important is the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package?
The atmosphere is very important to us. Our decors are different as they are made with wood and iron. They are particular enough, though coherent with the concept we want to express.
Via Antonio Serra 11/13
+39 06 33225131