Everyone’s doing it — shopping online. As the pandemic continues to escalate, e-tailers will have access to more consumer dollars than ever before. However, brands and retailers that offer enhanced shopping experiences with free services such as personal stylists to fit specialists are likely to grab a bigger share of this burgeoning market.
While most sites attempt to make the buying process as seamless as possible by posting lengthy lists of frequently asked questions (FQA) and answers, others take shopping to the next level with live chats by online or by phone, with knowledgable customer service representatives.
Meanwhile, some continue to lure shoppers with free shipping offers and liberal return policies. In one go-the-extra-mile example, Lands’ End noted a customer recently discovered an item purchased in 2000 that was misplaced during a move. The company took it back and credited the return.
Still not enough to get your business? Consider sites that distinguish themselves with the services of personal stylists and fit experts, to those like Zappos that are available 24/7 even if all a customer needs is to hear a friendly voice after a long, hard day.
Here, FN has curated five sites that offer shoppers a personalized online service from the comfort of their kitchen, bedroom or backyard.
Direct-to-consumer brand Casca, which launched its line of casual unisex comfort looks in 2019, features a 3D-printed insole tailored to each wearer. Not only can customers easily download an app to scan their foot to create custom footbed, but the brand’s co-founder Braden Parker is available via an online video chat tool to help with shoe purchases. Simply book an appointment with Parker for a one-on-one session conducted in its Canada-based brick-and-mortar store.
The retailer offers clients the personalized service of personal, beauty and designer specialists that can assist with product selections, taking the in-store experience straight to their homes. Shoppers can chat online with the team, or call a toll-free number. The process is simple: Customers communicate what wardrobe items they’re seeking and suggestions can be made live. Or, the team will send customers a style survey through which they can note their color preferences, sizing information and other key elements of their needs. A text will be sent with a link to actual wardrobe selections. Shoppers then have the opportunity to follow up with a text or phone call to discuss or place an order.
Footwear may be the e-retailers’ main focus, but its customer service team is there to help with a range of non-shoe questions as well. Its “Customer Service for Anything” team gives shoppers the chance to request assistance with anything and everything from finding a local moving company to travel recommendations by phone, text or email. And, there are team members available to simply lend an ear to a customer experiencing personal issues. Since the team does not include trained mental health professionals or social workers, they can refer callers to these services in their local areas.
Heading to the great outdoors, Oboz has some online tips, tricks and advice on everything from adventures to shoe lacing. In addition to associates standing by to answer product questions by phone or email, the site includes articles from experts on “How to Find Your Fit With a Brannock Device,” “How to Hike in Cold Weather” and “The Top 10 Foot Injuries and Problems.” There’s also a section on caring for Oboz products to prolong the performance and life of the boots.
Road Runner Sports
The retailer offers the next best thing to being fitted in-store with live chats with fit experts. Customers are in full control of their camera, volume and microphone, and can choose whether they want to talk, type or have a face-to-face video chat. Once customers start shopping, they will see a pop-up window inviting them to connect with a fit expert. Their fitters will then place their orders.