Once limited to customers with elite status, many luxury, fashion and beauty retailers are now offering personal shopping appointments to their customers as a way of increasing customer conversion rates, basket size and loyalty figures.
What is personal shopping?
By definition, a personal shopper earns a living by shopping on behalf of a private client, whether it’s home furniture you’re after or your weekly groceries. Typically, personal shoppers work in the fashion industry, styling their clients with clothing and accessories.
The practice stems all the way back to the late 1800s. People in rural areas far away from the hubbub of metropolitan cities often hired personal shopping assistants from the likes of Sears and other department store retailers to buy their clothing. We can’t help but think that virtual services would have been a game-changer for 19th century villagers.
7 ways to increase personal shopping appointments
With new enterprise appointment scheduling software making it that much easier for retail businesses to create and implement a smooth customer booking journey across their store portfolios, many leading brands are offering in-store and online appointments for fashion and styling advice, beauty tutorials or personalized shopping experiences.
Here’s seven key ways you can boost traffic to your personal shopping online booking system.
1. Create a seamless appointment booking customer journey
To increase the number of appointment bookings for your personal shopping experiences, you’ll need to invest in a fast, engaging and intuitive booking system.
Ideally, customers should be able to schedule an appointment in a minute or less. They simply need to select a store location, picking a convenient time-slot, and enter some details. Then, they’ll automatically receive a confirmation email or SMS.
There are a number of platforms on the market, many of which have popped up as a result of the pandemic, but an effective personal shopping appointment software should be:
- Dynamic (working alongside your existing website and app)
- Customizable to your branding
- Live across a number of enterprise-level retailers already
If you’re a large, international business, it pays to consider finding a partner with a number of different languages available to make the process smoother. Make sure they can also integrate with your CRM to make post-event follow up communication even more effective.
For instance, Qudini powers luxury retailer Burberry’s online and in-store appointment booking process across a number of different regions. We’re able to do so because our out-of-the-box scheduling software functions in almost 20 different languages.
2. Promote your personal shopping software online
In the digital age, promoting your personal shopping software online ought to be mandatory–you can reach thousands of people in a few minutes and attract high-value customers.
Primarily, you should promote your appointment software across your social media accounts. You’re much more likely to attract new customers if you put your personal shoppers and stylists front and center and your Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts.
To start off, it’s worth giving your personal shoppers some photography training (a few basic smartphone hacks should do) and some best practice lessons (e.g., how to hashtag and write engaging captions). Crucially, you also need to make sure they’re replying to potential clients who message your retail account profile to start building a meaningful relationship.
What else can you do online to increase personal shopping appointments?
There are a number of other highly effective areas to promote your personal shopping solution across, including your:
- Website: Place prominent Call to Action (CTA) banners on your homepage, in the navigation bar, contact us section, pop ups and on relevant product pages throughout your site.
- App: Allow customers to easily book virtual appointments through your app by putting a banner on the homepage.
- Paid ads: Another good idea is to create PPC ads promoting your appointment booking offering.
- Social media: Reach younger generations by promoting your personal shopping software across social media platforms. For instance, set up Facebook appointments on your business page to enable customers to make appointments straight via social media.
For more on this, download our guide to promoting your appointment booking offering.
3. Offer virtual services
As Qudini recently revealed in our Virtual Service Retail Whitepaper, up to 70% of a major department store retailer’s virtual appointment customers are new to the brand. In other words, by deploying an online booking system, the well-known retailer was able to dramatically boost in-store and online traffic.
For a personal shopping software that is integrated with video conferencing tools like Zoom, the booking journey is the same as ever. The customer goes to the retailer’s website or booking app, navigates to the virtual appointments booking page and selects a time-slot. Once they’ve entered their details, they receive a confirmation email with the Zoom link (or its equivalent). The customer receives email and SMS reminders to keep them engaged and informed before their appointment and post-event follow up information.
Personal shoppers can conduct consultations via virtual appointments, asking questions in the booking process to establish the purpose of the call, and provide style advice, share screens or videos. Some even showcase in-store items in real-time. For instance, beauty stylists can provide personalized tutorials over video and can serve large groups at events.
4. Invest in your personal shoppers
Another key way to increase the number of personal appointments in your stores is by upskilling your personal shoppers.
3 ways to train your personal shoppers
Soft skills: Being able to recite all your products off by heart might be a useful skill to have, but product experts are only as good as their ability to relate that information to people based on their specific needs. Soft skills like being able to empathize with a consumer’s situation, listen to their problem and understand their specific demands are incredibly important. Train your personal shoppers to be sensitive, kind and positive, and your customers will be more likely to convert.
Encourage your team to be influencers: Many of the beauty experts at luxury retail brand, Brown Thomas, are social media influencers in their own right, so when the first lockdown happened, the brand helped those influencers to establish even stronger online profiles. The brand also allowed customers to easily book one-on-one virtual appointments with these beauty and style experts to offer the same level of service a customer would get in store. As a result, they were able to tap into a younger and highly engaged audience as a result.
Ask people to review their experience: Modern consumers are notorious for their reliance on online review sites. The majority of consumers will do their research before making a purchase (especially if they’re new customers). So, why not ask your satisfied customers to review their experience using your in-store personal shopping experience?
5. Create a referral program
Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool you can use to your advantage. With a referral program, customers earn rewards by enrolling friends and family to your personal shopping services.
Traditionally, retailers treat customers who spread the word to coupons discounting their next appointment. Alternatively, they may offer exclusive access to premium products and services. However you decide to run your referral program, one thing’s for sure: your customers will thank you for it.
6. Add an event booking software to your portfolio
Today’s consumer is increasingly willing to spend money on an in-store or virtual event or experience. If customers enjoy your events, they may even more regularly return to your stores via your personal shopping appointment software.
Generally, product launches, educational classes, workshops, celebrity appearances, and live performances see the highest sign up and conversion rates.
Essentially, personalized appointment scheduling software and event booking software go hand in hand. You can drive two–way traffic by deploying both solutions across your retail and banking channels.
7. Set up email campaigns
Finally, another key way to drive in-store personal shopping appointments is to target high-value customers via tailored email campaigns. Find and segment those loyal customers who frequent your stores and hit them with emails promoting your appointment services.
Segmenting high-value customers
You may want to segment your high-value customers based on:
- Average basket size
- How often they book visit your channels
- How many referrals they’ve brought to your scheduling app
When you’ve organized your contact lists, promote, promote, promote. Just watch as your appointments book up and your sales jump up.
How can personal shopping appointments drive business?
Here are some of the many benefits retail brands enjoy with personalized shopping appointments:
1. Increased basket size
Scenario: the customer walks into your store wanting to buy a pair of earrings. Some time later, they leave holding more bags than they can humanly carry. What happened, you might ask?
Personal shoppers are upselling machines. They can turn a pair of earrings into an outfit and not only help your customer in the process but also greatly increase the average basket size as well.
2. Higher conversion rate
This won’t come as a surprise to most, but a few years back, Econsultancy published a study that found brands leading the way on the Consumer Experience front experienced an average 17% revenue growth within 5 years, while those with poorer consumer experiences delivered only 3% over the same period.
That’s because customers crave personalized shopping experiences from the retailers they interact with. The ROI opportunities from an online booking system are ten-fold; every customer wants to feel like a VIP and they’re more than willing to pay more across your channels for this type of experience.
This also complements one of our six rules for retailing in a recession-invest where the headroom is. Essentially, you can significantly drive your basket size simply by offering personalized appointments to get new customers to convert.
3. Stronger customer relationships
Before the pandemic, modern consumers were notorious for their fickle shopping behavior – and Covid-19 has only increased their fickleness. According to McKinsey research, 75% of customers have tried different brands since the pandemic started, while 60% of those consumers expect to adopt new brands and stores into their post-pandemic lives and routines.
A global survey of 25,000+ consumers by payment platform Adyen found 64% of consumers wouldn’t return to a retailer if they’ve had a bad experience either in-store or online.
What does all this prove? That experience is everything.
Brands that invest in personal shopping experiences can ensure their highly engaged customers have an enjoyable and positive shopping experience. During the first lockdown, luxury department store retailer, Brown Thomas, which has concession brands like Chanel, Hermes, Burberry and Lululemon, offered a virtual shopping experience and received a significant increase in NPS scores – and were able to tap into an entirely new audience.
4. Increased personal shopper productivity
One of the biggest challenges personal shoppers face is keeping a busy schedule throughout the day. They have a busy few hours during the lunchtime and dwell time for the rest of the afternoon.
Fortunately, a retail booking software ensures personal shoppers have appointments evenly spaced out throughout the day. Retailers can get the most out of their personal shoppers with a well-promoted and streamlined appointment scheduling system.
For more on this topic, read about the different ways retailers use appointment scheduling software to draw new customers to stores. Alternatively, check out our case studies for Specsavers, Standard Chartered Bank and a global electronics repair retailer.