Is virtual selling set to take off?
Retailers have dabbled with virtual selling in recent years, but there now appears to be an intensified focus with in-store opportunities vanishing amid the pandemic.
On April 8, Glossier introduced Glossier Live Edit, a video chat function supporting one-on-one consultations. The service’s initial 150 appointments sold out quickly. Emily Weiss, founder, wrote on Instagram, “Think of it as your own personal Top Shelf treatment: share the products you’ve been loving, the things you have questions about, or just what beauty means to you today — we’ll share too.”
Glossy profiled how Credo Beauty, Beautycounter and Tata Harper are also tapping virtual consultations in the beauty space. Credo Beauty’s associates are able to link recommendations to online product pages. Credo Beauty’s CEO Dawn Dobras told Glossy the feature acts “like an Uber for sales associates.”
Salesfloor, a service that supports mobile clienteling in the apparel and footwear space, is providing complimentary access to its platform in response to COVID-19. Associates can earn commission by engaging customers through email, live chatting and text messaging. Retailers can set up their own storefronts on the platform showcasing product themes and share personalized comments on specific items.
With in-store events shut down in the grocery space, Chicago’s Mariano’s has launched Mariano’s Meet Ups, an online platform for cooking classes, wine tastings, mixology sessions and live performances from Chicago musicians. Home-bound customers can also digitally gain access to expert advice on everything from home furnishings to wedding gowns and diamond rings.
In a blog entry, Bob Phibbs, CEO of The Retail Doctor and a RetailWire BrainTrust panelist, wrote that retailers will have to measure the risks of letting employees access customer data and of using the virtual tools on their own personal devices, as well as the complications of having staff work from home.
Mr. Phibbs believes virtual selling can work across a range of categories, and many furloughed associates will be eager to chase commissions. He also maintains that while virtual selling will become more important regardless in the long term, it’s essential for many in the near term. “We will have to lean on virtual selling sooner than later if we want to survive,” he wrote.
- Emily Weiss – Instagram
- Coronavirus closings create virtual consultation uptick in beauty – Glossy
- Salesfloor Talks Retailers’ ‘Secret Weapon’ Against COVID-19 – WWD
- Microd Launches Covid-19 Response Program For Clients – Microd
- Tech companies see retailers ramping up digital presence – Furniture Today
- Perq launches virtual consultation scheduler – Furniture Today
- It’s Time To Embrace The Virtual Retail Salesperson – The Retail Doctor
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Can virtual selling make up for the in-store service lost from stores that are currently closed and likely facing restrictions when they open in the months ahead? Which virtual selling techniques do you find most promising?