BENGALURU: Window shopping may not regain the pre-COVID era popularity anytime soon, but in these times of the new normal, that friend who used to accompany you, egging you on to buy a dress or not giving the nod of approval for those stretch pants, is getting replaced with personal shoppers. The ‘consultant’ connects with customers via phone or video calls to help with the remote shopping experience or, should you decided to step into the store, suggests what’s available, suits the occasion, or points out alternatives, depending on requirements.
The idea is gaining favour with store owners as, despite safety norms in place, some standalone shops that have re-opened are struggling to woo customers. “With people staying indoors and the store being shut, there has been much revenue loss over the last two months. Right now, we have initiated several safety measures after the store has reopened but footfalls remain dwindled,” admits Kris, designer and curator, Basava by Kris. To counter this, they’ve been organising walkthroughs of the store, showing and suggesting products on WhatsApp video calls, with the personal shopper explaining the products in detail. “Online shopping is what most e-commerce majors offer – it is one size fits all. Here, there is scope for interaction, building a rapport and relationship with prospective customers,” says Kris.
To make the experience less clinical and robotic, designer Payal Khandwala, who owns a standalone store in the city, is sending across apparels of a customer’s choice to their residence. “Many of our personal shoppers have been working with us for years. So, in a way, they know our clientele and their tastes. This helps in making suggestions when a customer is, say, looking for a kurta. The personal shopper would suggest maybe a fuller, slimmer or relaxed style,” she says, adding that this new style of shopping is not based on a certain algorithm.
Apparels once bought are home-delivered, and can be exchanged or returned with a refund within 24 hours. And once back in the store, they are steamed. “Our personal shopper may suggest to a client whose looking for a blouse to go for a shirt that can also be worn with trousers. Now, it’s about understanding the sentiment of the buyer,” she says.
Just as relationship mangers in banks call to check on clients, stores too are warming up to the practice. Shoppers Stop has over 280 personal shoppers who have been connecting with customers even during the lockdown. “Personal shoppers curate suggestions by linking their understanding of the customer and data available on their tabs of the customer’s shopping journey. This helps them service better from the online and offline store inventory,” says Uma Talreja, Chief of Marketing & Customer Officer, Shoppers Stop.