Compared to fashion in general, bras are a product with a particularly low profit margin.
They’re also one that’s considerably harder to find the right fit in. So why not kill two birds with one stone by offering an alterations service at your lingerie boutique? Customers can get a better fit and spend more money in the process!
In fact, you may even sell more bras. You’ll be able to close sales with customers who would have previously walked out of the shop empty-handed, unable to find their perfect fit and unwilling to pay for a so-so one.
Offering bra alterations can also help you to stand out from the crowd. Most lingerie boutiques I’ve been to haven’t offered this (or at least, haven’t advertised that they do), and it’s certainly not a service you’ll find at large chain retailers. So when fit-focussed bra shoppers learn that you’re the only place in town that offers both bras and bra alterations, don’t be surprised if you gain some loyal customers.
There are only really three reasons not to offer an alterations service, and one is to save yourself a bit of work. Another is that if you specialise in low-cost lingerie, it’s going to be hard to upsell this to your customer base. And lastly, you’ll also avoid potentially dealing with customers who aren’t happy with their customised bra, and are even less happy that it’s now non-refundable. But that should be an exceptional situation!
For most lingerie boutiques, the question isn’t should you offer bra alterations, it’s should you offer them in-house or team up with a local tailoring service?
Here are some pros and cons of each to help you decide:
Offering Bra Alterations Yourself
You could offer a faster turnaround.
Carrying out the alterations on-site means you can get them done quicker, and perhaps even offer a premium, same-day service for customers who are in a rush!
You could potentially make more money.
Upselling bra alterations to your customers will bring in a new revenue stream however you do it, but if you’re able to do those alterations in-house rather than paying out to a third party, you stand to make the most profit.
It costs money.
Of course, you need someone who actually knows how to sew. If you need to bring someone new on board, even if just as a part-time role, it can be a significant investment. You’ll also need to obtain equipment such as a sewing machine.
Bra fitters will need training.
Chances are, your fitting staff won’t be sewing experts. It’s a bit of a niche skill. However, if you begin offering alterations they will at least need to know the basic modifications available and how they affect the fit of the bra. Otherwise, how will they upsell alterations to your customers in the changing room?
It requires space.
If you’ll be doing alterations on-site, you’ll need a physical space to do that in. Any square footage dedicated to a sewing table is an area you’re not using to display or store lingerie.
Partnering With a Local Alterations Shop
Quick, easy and free to set up.
By sub-contracting your alterations service out to a local seamstress or tailoring service, you don’t need to hire staff or purchase equipment. You simply need to hammer out the details such as pricing and you’re good to go!
When the bras have to travel across town and back, the whole process is inevitably going to take a little longer. There’s also a chance the alterations provider will prioritise jobs from their direct customer base over the ones you’re sending them.
The potential for mistakes.
You’ll be sending the bras off, crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. Even at the best tailor shop, mistakes can happen. And when they do, who’s responsible for refunding your customer, who potentially just bought a very expensive, luxury item?
Which Option Is Best For Your Boutique?
Offering bra alterations is a great idea, but it’s not going to appeal to every customer. Some won’t want to wait, some won’t wait to pay, and some simply don’t mind an imperfect fit.
Due to the initial and ongoing costs of offering your own bra alteration service, it only makes sense to go that way if you’re expecting to get plenty of requests for it. You don’t want it to end up costing more than it’s bringing in!
If you have a lot of customers that are particular about fit, or already get regular enquiries as to whether you offer the service, then having an on-site seamstress is worth considering. If on the other hand you think alterations will only appeal to a select few customers, then partnering with a local tailoring service is probably the route for you.