In the world of retail, first impressions count.  If your sales assistants are inattentive, dishevelled, or rude, then you could be losing customers. It’s hard to change the attitude of an employee; some people are simply good with customers, while others aren’t – however, you can change the way that people present themselves.  The right uniform can make a big difference.

Uniform Design for Retail

Most major stores make use of uniforms for their customer facing employees.  There are a few reasons for this.  Firstly, enforcing uniforms is easier than enforcing a dress code.  Secondly, uniforms make it easier for employees to spot each other, and help customers figure out who is staff, and who is a customer, so they can ask the right people for help when needed. A good uniform can improve morale too, making your employees feel smart, ready to go, and a part of the team when they put it on.

Smart Uniforms

The challenge, when creating a work uniform, is to come up with something that looks distinctive, and that people like wearing. Simple design choices are usually best.  For example, a polo shirt in your company colours, with your logo embroidered on it, will probably look good, and will be fairly cheap to make too.

In contrast, unusually cut or designed shirts, overly fancy cravats or ties, and strangely designed hats are likely to be unpopular with employees.  There are some jobs where a hat and cravat may be warranted (flight attendants, for example), but they’re overkill for retail.

If you want to have a hat as part of the uniform, consider offering choices; perhaps baseball caps and ski hats with your logo embroidered on them, so that people have something to wear at any time of the year.

Of course, with any uniform design, it’s important to consider your target audience.  A high-fashion clothing store aimed at relatively affluent customers will need a different uniform to a more general retail store, or a store selling gadgets and computer equipment.

Name Badges?

Name badges are a useful addition to any uniform.  When an employee is wearing a name badge, they’re more accountable for their actions – good and bad.  The design of your name badges should be considered carefully, however.

Some companies put a picture of the employee on the badge – this can be useful in that it prevents the badge from being used by someone else, improving security. However, most people don’t like having their picture taken, and let’s face it, most ID photos aren’t flattering – do you want those things on your name badges?

Another thing to think about is the general design of your badges.  Tread carefully if you want some sort of rank or performance identifier on the badge.  When your HR department pitches an “Employee of the month” scheme to you, it might seem like a great idea, but if you put stars on your badges, you’re heading into fast food restaurant territory.  Is that really the message you want to send to your employees and customers?

The best uniforms are simple and smart.  If you wouldn’t be willing to wear your new uniform design out in public, why do you expect your employees to do so?

This post was written by James Harper on behalf of Name Badges International.

What do you think about that?