Enriched in-store appointment system, a response to COVID-19 for the luxury industry – part 1

Customer Experience 6 January 2021

While the coronavirus outbreak is still underway, brands are trying to adapt to the “new normal”. Traffic in boutiques is particularly affected by the current context: social distancing, systematic disinfection, fewer (and fearful) visitors, … – yet it remains a major channel for the luxury industry. Now more than ever, an enriched in-store appointment system appears to be an efficient approach to ensure the health of visitors while still maintaining a high-quality service. In this series of two articles, we are revealing all the details behind this concept!

Boutique experience remains of the essence of the luxury industry

Online shopping is all the rage in the luxury industry. In 2018, it accounted for 10% of global luxury sales and grew by 22%, remaining the fastest-growing channel. The significant role played by a digital presence has been well proven, whether it be advanced features on websites, influencers marketing, “unboxing” or social media posts. Brands stretch their imagination to create an authentic, customer-centric experience online. 

Yet, brick-and-mortar stores remain at the heart of the strategy designed by traditional luxury brands. Even more surprising, pure players are opening physical stores, just like Glossier and Away. Many reasons can be cited to explain this trend. Luxury customers remain attached to the personalized service provided by a human. They appreciate the staff expertise, the personalized recommendations, reassurance and care they can get. The tactile experience is not to be minimized either

The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed the relationship between customers and brick-and-mortar stores. The latters had to adapt operations that had remained unchanged for years to conform to health and safety regulations (systematic disinfection of any surfaces, social distancing, mask-wearing, …), while still striving to meet customer expectations.

Under this new context, brands must reinvent the in-store experience to ensure safety, minimize constraints, motivate boutique visits and stand out from competition. Customers are still expecting to feel special and valued, whether they’re shopping for a luxurious car or a new watch strap. Luxury players can do so by providing a tailored one-to-one experience via an enriched in-store appointment system.

How an enriched in-store appointment system can help face the COVID-19 recession

Imagine your boutique staff could tailor their sales pitch to each and every customer ahead of time to deliver a seamless experience. Does it sound appealing? The good news is that it is something you can do quite painlessly and we will explain how. 

The storyline is simple. A user visits your website and books an appointment in a physical boutique for the next day. Staff members of the aforesaid store receive a notification letting them know about the upcoming appointment. At the same time, they also receive a detailed documentation providing insights about the visitor. The information can for instance relate to the motive for appointment, product preferences or past transactions. Sales assistants can ensure they have the right products and level of information ahead of time, hence delivering an even more exclusive service to the visitor. 

Such system has many direct benefits for customers, namely: 

  • One-to-one experience provided to each customer who had booked an appointment
  • Personalized experience: since staff members can prepare each appointment ahead of time, sales pitch can be fully tailored to customers’ needs, preferences and expectations
  • Tailored answers provided to any question or doubt customers may have 
  • Feeling of being taken care of
  • More robust relationship between customers and staff members, and hence between customers and the brand

In addition to an enhanced conversion rate and increased revenue, advantages are also significant for brands:

  • Free-flowing traffic in boutiques, as a way to ensure social distancing and a limited number of customers at the same time in store
  • Enhanced customer knowledge through the reconciliation of CRM and webanalytics data
  • Optimization of staff time allocation: staff members can prepare upcoming appointments during low traffic times

Enriched in-store appointment system: recipe for success

Enough with concepts, let’s dive into hard facts. How to create this exclusive one-to-one experience then? Let me already give you a hint: there is no magic, only skillfully used data and technology! 

On the one hand, a webanalytics tool is crucial to collect insights related to user interactions on your website, whether they be visits on product pages, add-to-carts or transactions. On the other hand, you need to deploy on your website a basic form that allows visitors to book an appointment in your boutiques. The information collected should obviously feed your CRM database but the form can also help you collect precious details such as the appointment motive.

By pushing a unique ID into your webanalytics solution upon each appointment booking, you are able to reconcile the CRM database with webanalytics data. You can then compile a selection of KPIs into a PDF, that will help staff members adapt their sales pitch. Which indicators could you include in the document? The last products purchased, the top product pages visited and the average session duration are just a few examples but one could think of many additional relevant KPIs depending on your brand’s context and objectives. 


Continue reading next part here.

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