Chrystine Phan - Store Manager, Mossimo, TGV, Sydney

Chrystine Phan
'I love that this job is creative, exciting and challenges me as a retail professional. It's a fast-paced and dynamic environment that's always changing.'

Chrystine is the store manager for one of the most recognisable street-wear labels in Australia, Mossimo.

Now aged 22, Chrystine began her retail career straight out of high school. With no previous fashion experience, Chrystine got her first retail job as a fashion consultant for Sportscraft before moving to street-wear label, Mossimo. After two years working under the Mossimo brand, she was promoted to store manager and has recently been offered the position of store manager for the Mooks Sydney city store once it reopens.

FYI The Mossimo and Mooks labels are owned by Pacific Brands, the parent company that also owns brands such as Berlei, King Gee and Sleepmaker.

Why did you choose to work in retail?

I chose retail because it involved interacting with different people. I enjoy meeting people and talking to them, and working in retail allows me to do that. Also, it has given me the chance to gain management skills while doing something I enjoy. I’ve always had an interest in fashion and clothing, and retail combines that interest with the opportunity to travel and to be promoted to senior positions.

What do you do as a store manager?

I head a team of six sales assistants in the day-to-day operations of a retail store. My duties include opening and closing the store, making sales, merchandising, stock replenishment, administration and customer service.

What is your main responsibility?

My main responsibility is to meet sales targets by maintaining a high standard of customer service and product knowledge among my team. Customer service and product knowledge are the two most important parts of working in retail. If sales assistants are strong in these areas, it promotes a good image of the brand, and influences how a customer feels about the brand. This is why I regularly remind my team about both these aspects, and advise them to approach customers using open-ended questions and a casual approach.

How does a casual approach work?

We greet customers by saying hello and smiling, and then we give them a bit of time to have a look around the store. Once the customer has had time to browse, we then approach them and ask a question in order to start a conversation. For example, asking ‘Are you shopping for anything in particular?’ would encourage the customer to engage in conversation with the staff rather than asking ‘Can I help you with anything?’ to which the customer might respond ‘no’ and the service could end there.

If customers do respond with ‘no’, we stop asking questions and let them browse the shop on their own, but not before saying ‘let me know if you need help’. This way, if the customer does need some help they will be more willing to ask. It is extremely important not to bombard customers with lines that appear rehearsed because, in retail, every customer is important.

What are you working on at the moment?

Just recently, I have assisted in the temporary closing of the Mooks city store for refurbishment.

During Mooks’ temporary closure, I am looking at ways to improve the business structure and performance of the Mooks city store from a retail and customer-based perspective. My experience working in sales means I can contribute constructive ideas from the sales floor to the design process. As a store manager, I am the link between the customers and the general commercial business process.

What do you like most about your job?

I love that this job is creative, exciting and challenges me as a retail professional. It’s a fast-paced and dynamic environment that’s always changing. I cannot imagine myself sitting in an office and performing the same task day in and out. Most of all, I love meeting new people and building that instant connection with them. One of the perks of my job, which I love, is the great discounts I can get as staff. That saves me a lot of money on clothes.

What do you like least?

It would have to be the Boxing Day sales. It’s that one time of the year where the store just becomes a disaster zone. Christmas is a very busy time but, come Boxing Day, people are pushing and shoving each other and will do just about anything to get a bargain.

Strangely enough, it’s the one day of the year when customers do not expect service. All their needs and concerns are put on hold for a day as they push pass each other to get that bargain priced, perfectly fitting, current season top.

What does it take to be successful in retail?

You need to be able to read people and understand people’s needs. To do this requires skills of subtle persuasion and a certain level of intuition. Most of all you need the ability to converse with a range of people.

What would you advise for those looking to start a career in retail?

I would say get in and give it a go. There are plenty of jobs in retail where you can try it out to see if you like working with customers.

Getting the opportunity to meet and engage with a variety of people who have varying interests and opinions will develop your skills to converse with people, colleagues and customers.

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