Once limited to shoppers with elite status, many luxury, fashion and beauty retailers are now offering personal experiences to their customers as a way of increasing customer conversion rates, basket size and loyalty figures.
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.
Why retailers should offer personal shopping experiences
Here are some of the many reasons why retail brands should offer personalized shopping experiences:
Consumers want personalized shopping journeys
Consumer demand for personalized experiences is rapidly rising – a 2018 survey by Accenture found 91% of consumers are more likely to do business with brands that recognize and reward them.
E-commerce giants like Amazon have created a whole new precedent for how personalized shopping experiences should be, and customers have come to expect a high pedigree of personalization. An Epsilon survey of 1,000 US adults revealed that 80% of respondents want personalization from retailers.
In today’s Covid-19 environment, where the majority of consumers are still avoiding stores (63% of US consumers still are, according to a recent Qudini survey of 2,000 adults), a great way to attract consumers back into stores and keep them engaged is by offering in-person or online personal shopping experiences.
The same survey found 18% of consumers want retailers to offer in-store appointments for services, while an impressive 45% want virtual appointments.
It increases customer conversion rates
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.
“It can increase a sale to grow almost 100% on average,” Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at market research firm The NPD Group, told Business of Fashion. “Imagine a person going into a store to buy a new skirt; personal shopping can turn that skirt into an outfit.”
It builds 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 will be able to ensure their highly engaged customers (those willing to book an appointment) have a relevant, 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.
Your personal shoppers are more productive
One of the biggest challenges personal shoppers face is keeping a busy schedule throughout the day – for most, they have a busy few hours during the lunch break period and dwell time for the rest of the afternoon.
But when a retail brand gets behind their personal shopping experiences by promoting it across a range of online and outdoor channels, and by creating a streamlined booking process using an appointment scheduling system, then personal shoppers are considerably more likely to have an evenly dispersed calendar – their appointments are spaced out throughout the day with highly engaged customers.
How to increase the number of personal shopping appointments in your store
Create a seamless appointment booking customer journey
To increase the number of customers booking appointments for your personal shopping experiences, you’ll need to invest in a fast, engaging and intuitive booking system.
Ideally, customers will be able to sign up to an appointment in a minute or less by simply selecting a store location, picking a time-slot that suits them, filling out some basic details and then receiving a confirmation email or SMS right then and there.
There are a number of platforms on the market, many of which have popped up as a result of the pandemic, but an effective appointment scheduling software should be dynamic (as in, it can work alongside your existing website and app), is customizable to your branding, and preferably, is already 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 – and one that can 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, and we’re able to do so because our out-of-the-box software functions in almost 20 different languages.
Promote personal appointments across your digital channels
There are a number of highly effective ways to promote personal appointments across your online channels, but here are some of the most effective:
- Website – place prominent call to action banners on your homepage, in the nav bar, in the contact us section, in pop ups and on relevant product pages throughout your site.
- App – allow customers to easily book video banking appointments through your app by giving it a banner on the homepage.
- Social channels – many booking systems make it possible for customers to access appointment time-slots directly through their social channels.
- Paid ads – another good ideas is to create PPC ads promoting your appointment booking offering.
- Email campaigns – try sharing the offering with your audience as a part of your next email marketing campaign.
Advertise personal shopping inside your stores
Here are some more ideas:
- Wall posters and window displays
- Flyers and brochures on your customer service or checkout desks
- Signs at your checkout (especially when tills are closed)
- Digital signs and lollipop signs
- Bus stops, billboards and more.
Move your personal shopping experience online
In the wake of Covid-19, many retail brands have moved their in-store services online, and that includes personal shopping. In fact, many brands have found it to be highly effective.
In the US, almost half of consumers want brands to offer virtual appointments during Covid-19, according to the Qudini survey, meaning there is huge potential for retailers.
For booking platforms that are integrated with the likes of video conferencing tools like Zoom, the customer experience is relatively similar to what you’d expect in-store. The customer goes to the retailer’s website or app, navigates to the appointment booking page, selects a time-slot, enters their details, then receives a confirmation email with the Zoom link (or its equivalent). The customer then receives email and SMS reminders to keep them engaged and informed before their appointment, and post-event follow up information afterwards.
Personal shoppers can conduct consultations over video, asking questions in the booking process to establish the purpose of the call, and provide style advice, share screens or videos – some are even operating from inside the store by showcasing specific items of clothing or products. For beauty advice, stylists can provide personalized tutorials over video and can even work with groups of people as an event.
Invest in your personal shoppers
Another key way to increase the number of personal appointments in your stores is by upskilling 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 empathise with a consumer’s situation, listen to their problem or predicament and understand their specific demands are incredibly important here. Train your personal shoppers to be sensitive, kind and positive, and your customers will be begging to buy something at the end of the experience.
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, and was 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.
For more information about how appointment scheduling software can increase your personal shopping experience in-store, book a demo to discuss how we’re working with brands in your sector.