Feb 17, 2009

Petra’s Tuesday Traipse: The Power of the Purse

You and I might think of the Power of the Purse as that invisible beam that slays you mid-mall and pulls you (at great peril to your credit rating) into the warm and dangerous confines of that shop you swore to not visit. More broadly (no broads here, only Ladies I presume), the Power of the Purse is that old twist of the Golden Rule. She with the gold, rules.

Well, Petra has a purse or 2, and a little gold sloshing around in them. I have been exercising my Purse Power not only by shopping, but by learning from and leaving behind Product Reviews wherever possible. Product reviews are terrific things. I learn from them. I learn what about what other real people (with real figures and without real armies of stylists, set decorators and lighting assistants) think about a garment I am considering buying. The wisdom of crowds it is called, and you can save yourself from buyers remorse by listening on this buzz.

On the other side of the coin, and to me, more importantly though, you can leave your own kind or sharp words behind as encouragement or caution to the next sister in line. Pay it forward. Save a girl from disappointment, or encourage them to be brave. Sorority solidarity.

There is more though. Senior management is paying attention to these reviews. These are tough times for retailers, online, around the corner and spanning the globe. The retailers who going to survive are those that listen to their customers and provide a welcoming shopping experience. The more retail management expects their income to come from crossdressers, the better our experience will be.

Here are a few samples of recently posted Petra online reviews. My suggested guidlines here:

  • Be fair. No garment is comprehensively bad. So if you have something negative to say about a purchase, do feature something positive, something that redeems the garment to a degree.
  • Be creative. Go ahead, put a little sizzle into your review. If you make the effort and have a stylish way of saying what you want to say, it will increase your odds of being published and engaging the next reader.
  • Be open. Say that you are CD or TG or whatever describes you best. I have been delighted to see self identified M2F crossdressers talking about the fit and feel of dresses, pantyhose, you name it online. If we are not furtive about our shopping, the market should organize around us slowly and surely.

I want to give a particularly warm (and hopefully not overly familiar) hug to our friends at Macy’s - the Grand Old Lady of department stores. Sales Assistants have been helpful and just nicely curious about my shopping, en femme and in drab. When I have been in a Macy’s wearing a Macy’s dress, it gets noticed by staff. On 2 separate occasions an SA has excitedly told me that I look terrific and that they appreciate that I am a Macys customer. Online, my reviews have been published quickly, and weirdly, other customers have found them helpful.

The really smart and helpful SA’s have encouraged me to take a moment as well writing about the shopping experience. Look at your receipts. There is a URL that you should visit and take 2 minutes to tell management how you enjoyed (or did not enjoy) your visit. These get read too. I have received 2 very personalized email responses from Macy’s Store Managers thanking me for my business, and promising to single out the SA for excellent performance in front of the whole team. That review may be the difference when it comes time to chopping hours or laying off staff.

I have had some great experiences with JC Penny too. I have reviewed a good handful of items and have risen to the status of Top 1000 Contributor. I am not sure what goes into their reviewer algorithm, but I suspect that people who have read my reviews have bought the reviewed product. Everyone wins.

Honorable mention to Target and American Apparel. These are all retailers who seem committed to giving control of the message to their consumers to a very large degree. It is control that is ours to seize and to benefit from. We are shoppers, hear us roar.

Its all easy, and to me fun. I encourage you to use your femme online persona and take the time to start a dialog with the vendors who hope you open your purse for them. The purse has power, and who knows that better than us? Lets wield it and not just yield to it.

And to retailers who don’t provide for online reviews, you are underestimating your most potent marketing vector, your most sincere critic and the people who pays your salary. And just look at us … clearly this is company you want to keep.

Today's post has a very America-centric message to it. Alas, here is where my femme shopping get done. I would be delighted to hear which retailers earn your business and your respect in your part of the world. Don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Happy dressing, shopping and everything else.


Lynn Jones said...

There's sales staff and there's sales staff.... If I get very good service, I'll let the shop now via an email.

The Crossdresser's Girlfriend said...

And I thought Petra was going to blog about handbags!
There are stores that I like more than others but the economy and my nasty taste for adventure blended with my unique desire for vintage, takes me into the places more off the beaten path these days. These days, it's more about the treasure search than the gal behind the counter. I don't like JC Penney but my sister adores it just for the way it smells! I love Macy's selection of panty hose. Nothing pleases me more than leaving that store with like 12 pairs of silky shiny thigh highs for 3 bucks a pair. I believe it's the specialty stores that give the customer service of the nature found in the old black and white movies. Stores like Victoria's Secret and have you paid a visit to MAC for a makeover? Oh Darling, you must discover MAC!

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