Fashion retailers are losing out on billions of dollars a year because sales staff are only engaging with seven per cent of customers who enter the store, according to a global survey of consumer shopping behaviour in the fashion industry conducted by Envision Retail.

The survey analysed 2000 customers in 120 retailers in Europe (Paris, London, Birmingham, Glasgow), Asia (Shanghai, Tokyo), the United States (Philadelphia, Los Angeles) and United Arab Emirates (Dubai), according to display and design ideas (ddi).

The survey also revealed that if sales staff approached four more customers in every 100, sales would increase by seven per cent. Encouraging customers to use welcoming and well-serviced fitting rooms would see an additional uplift of five per cent.

"Retailers are very good at selecting products and merchandising them in a way that inspire customers to make a purchase, which is why more than half the shoppers who enter a store with no clear idea of what to buy, account for more than 40 per cent of sales," says Jason Kemp, managing director, Envision Retail.

"But if they want to make a big leap in sales, apart from just expanding the number of outlets, they need to get their staff selling."

Envision identified five distinct customer groups – pleasure seekers, product groupies, focused fulfillers, general browsers and time killers – differentiated by the speed in which shoppers move around a store and their interaction with the product.

In Europe, the largest group are the pleasure seekers – customers shopping for a treat. They are the most impulsive and try on 1.5 as many products than elsewhere in the world. In the US, where shopping is a planned activity, most customers start their trip as a product groupie – knowing exactly what type of item they want – but once they have found it, they turn into general browsers – leisurely visiting the rest of the store, ddi reports.

The US is the only market where a significant percentage of customers change group during the shopping experience. In Asia, shopping is a social leisure activity, with 18 per cent more general browsers than the global average with customers more likely to use a shopping trip to meet up with friends.

In the UAE, 52 per cent of sales come from the product groupies, and timer killers are also the most significant in this region. The focused fulfillers – those who know exactly what they want – are the smallest group, representing between one and two per cent in every region.

Focused fulfillers are the least likely to be converted by an approach by a member of staff. In fact, the survey showed conversion rates were 14 per cent for this group. On the sales floor, 10 per cent of customers are converted into buyers, whereas in the fitting room it is closer to 70 per cent.

"While in every region studied, shoppers fit into one of our groups, the dominant group is different, so those retailers looking to expand outside their domestic market, for instance, need to be especially aware of this if they want to succeed," says Kemp.