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How to use personal shopping to drive footfall to your stores and provide an exceptional customer experience

20th Nov 2014
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Whilst personal shopping was once traditionally reserved for high-end, designer outlets, it has proven to be such an effective tool for brands that an increasing number have now introduced the service. As well as driving footfall to bricks-and-mortar stores, personal shopping services help to increase order value, drive customer conversion, build a stronger relationship between customer and brand and boost brand loyalty - with so many advantages, it’s not surprising to hear that many brands even offer personal shopping to their customers for free.

Exciting high street examples

Leading contemporary fashion retailer Oasis, for example, has just launched a free personal shopping service called ‘My Personal Stylist,’ which is designed to guide a potential customer from initial research (most likely online) to purchasing products in store. Easy and fun to use, the service not only lets customers book an appointment with a stylist at a time that suits them, those using ‘My Personal Stylist’ can choose the occasion which best suits their needs, including everything from bridesmaid outfits to holiday wear. What’s more, customers are even able to see a profile for each stylist to ensure they can choose their favourite, and helping to build a personal connection between customer and brand.

Using a personal shopper is also becoming increasingly popular in the menswear sector as well; start-ups like Trunk Club in the US and Chictypes in France have even built their entire business model on this trend! These innovative stores are best described as personal shopping websites, as they offer the service of a personal stylist exclusively online. Both work by finding out details about a customer’s personal style, specially selecting items suited to their taste and delivering everything to their door for them to try on at home, making it easy and convenient for the customer to find clothes that suit them.

American jeans brand Bonobos has also adopted a personal shopping service; however they wanted to ensure that they maintained a face-to-face relationship with their clientele. They therefore offer in-store appointments in one of ten ‘guideshops,’ where customers schedule a 1 hour appointment with a knowledgeable stylist. Any items the customer buys during the appointment will then be delivered to a location of their choice, allowing the shopper to leave the store with their hands free. By putting the customer’s needs at the heart of their services, all of these brands are able to boost loyalty and customer engagement, ultimately increasing their ROI.

The importance of real-time booking

Whilst the benefits of personal shopping for both brands and customers are clear, to ensure the service is as successful as possible it must be incorporated seamlessly into the customer journey. A number of brands, for example, offer personal shopping but only allow customers to arrange an appointment on the phone, or using an online booking form. From a customer perspective this is inconvenient, as this approach requires a number of interactions to find a time slot which suits both brand and customer. In addition, the brand is likely to only engage with the customer during working hours, which may not suit the customer’s schedule. Fortunately, however, dynamic real-time online booking solutions, such as offered by Solocal Group UK, are now available, and can generate fantastic results and maximise booking opportunity in any sector.

By implementing a real-time booking system for personal shopping appointments, brands are able to dramatically reduce the time staff spend on the booking process, meaning that they have more time to dedicate to sales. In addition, real-time online booking solutions can send automated reminders, allowing brands to reduce no-shows by up to 80%, and is fully customisable with the brand’s image.

For the customer, real-time booking services offer a drastically improved experience. With 40% of appointments being booked outside of opening hours, the solution enables them to book their meeting at a time that suits them, without restricting them to business hours. Solocal Group’s service is available on any device, and with 40% of bookings being made on mobile, this exceptionally important for the customers’ convenience. Quick and easy to use, real-time booking solution can also send email confirmation and text reminders to ensure the customer has stylist appointment details in writing, making it easy for them to access all the necessary details.

Advantages for both customers and brands

Personal styling services undoubtedly help create a great shopping experience for the customer. By giving customers the added value of a styling package, they’re able to find clothes personally tailored to their tastes, encouraging them to engage with the brand to make use of the service. Once in store, customers can foster a personal connection with their stylist and subsequently the brand. By allowing the customer to book styling appointments in real –time, the process is incredibly easy for them, and can be done from the comfort of their sofa, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

After deploying a personal shopping service, brands can expect increased footfall to their stores, increased order value as stylists will be able to upsell items, improved customer loyalty and retention and greater connections with customers. Through allowing customers to book appointments online and in real-time, personal shopping services are integrated seamlessly into the customer journey, improving the customer experience whilst also reducing no shows.

Offering a personal shopping service really makes brands stand out from their competitors, and builds a strong, personal connection with their target market.  As more and more leading retailers are implementing the solution, it looks set to change the high street and permanently improve the customer experience.

This was originally published on the Solocal Group UK blog


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