Luxury department store retailer, Brown Thomas, managed to attract a new – and young – customer-base during the Covid-19 lockdown by hosting virtual appointments with beauty and style experts.
Like many retailers, Brown Thomas experienced a sudden increase in online sales when its stores closed during lockdown, but where the Irish department store icon managed to stand out was by using Qudini’s virtual appointment scheduling software to offer customers tailored, one-to-one appointments with its team of beauty and style experts.
These virtual appointments became incredibly useful at drawing in new customers, said Brown Thomas’s Stores Director, Mark Limby, at Qudini’s Safe Stores panel event, who revealed that approximately 60-70% of all its appointments were with new customers.
Why Brown Thomas set up virtual appointments during lockdown
Brown Thomas is home to a variety of brands, many of which are high-end such as Marc Jacobs, Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana, so customers often required a consultative approach when shopping.
Before the lockdown took place, the brand allowed customers to book in-store appointments with its beauty experts – and 78% of these customers ended up making a purchase.
Brown Thomas wanted to bring this experience online. When creating their virtual shopping and beauty teams, Mark said they handpicked their personal shoppers, choosing stylists who were particularly active on social media, as well as helping these stylists to present themselves well and bring the brand to life.
During the lockdown, virtual appointments were high in demand, with 50% of all time-slots with experts being booked. Mark also noted that a large number of these customers were from younger demographics.
This aligns with survey findings from a recent Qudini survey of 2,000 UK consumers during Covid-19 which found that younger generations are more than twice (113%) as likely to want video service from brands than their Baby Boomer counterparts.
How Brown Thomas’s virtual appointment scheduling journey works
Qudini’s booking software allows Brown Thomas customers to book appointments online with personal shoppers and stylists, enabling them to be served quickly without waiting for service.
On Brown Thomas’s dedicated appointments landing page, customers can select a beauty or style expert that they’d like to have an appointment with.
They can then easily select an available time-slot that suits them.
Once customers book an appointment time, they receive a confirmation message and regular reminders about their appointment, keeping them engaged and informed.
Virtual appointments still play a big role in Brown Thomas’s offering post-lockdown
Virtual appointments and experiences will continue to grow going forward, said Mark – but this is a different channel and it requires a unique approach.
“There’s a lot more we can do to connect with customers and have sales through remote experiences.”
This is why the brand is continuing to refine its online offering by gathering feedback from customers and from their teams on how to make improvements.