We all know that the industry is moving towards online/mobile shopping but there is more than one way to have an online/mobile presence if you are a boutique or specialty store and it may not involve uploading your entire inventory for your shoppers.
Transitioning into an e-commerce as an existing boutique or store can be difficult. Having multiple stores that switch and or share inventory makes it difficult to keep track of updated inventory and the initial process of putting existing items into an online catalogue can be overwhelming. But who says that a boutique or store has to follow big retailers’ methods of maintaining an online presence? A boutique is an entirely different experience than a big retailer and an online and mobile presence has an opportunity to be customized.
Online presence is not necessarily a full catalogue. Instead it can be content, updates, selected items and communication tools for your customers.
An online presence should mainly be about customer experience, serving as an extension of customer service. Having an online and mobile presence means that even when your customers leave your store physically, they can still be engaged with your store through their phones and computers. Thinking of it this way can help stores without an online presence create unique opportunities for their customers online without feeling overwhelmed.
Sometimes really great boutiques and stores are built on personal relationships. In these scenarios, boutiques attract particular shoppers and even high profile clients based on relationships with the owners. The store may want to keep an exclusive low profile or maintain the personal feel it started with. Whatever the case may be, there is still room for a well thought-out online presence.
If personalization is a concern, your e-commerce and mobile presence can work more as communication and inventory management for your specialty customers.
Some of the things your online and mobile presence can facilitate are:
Creating Customer Profiles - Simple login’s for you customers where they have access to private offerings, can upload information and communicate with associates.
Inventory Alerts - Alert your clients of new items that are coming in based on their taste. This is the same as if you were to call clients and leave messages but a much more direct way.
Style Guides - If you know your clients well, and you know your inventory, you can send out weekly or monthly style guides with your product offerings.
Content Updates - as previously mentioned content is a key form of engagement, even more so that scrolling through endless catalogues of items.
Schedule Sessions- Provides options or scheduling unique offering such as tailoring, in-store.
As a boutique, it may not be be necessary to upload your entire inventory into an e-commerce. Instead you can upload key items, sales items, new items, most popular items or items of your choice that work best for your customer base. If you are considering a private label, provide exclusive online availability with the option to try-on in store. Consider using a mobile app to provide rich content, exclusives, guides and personalized experiences for you loyal customers. Your content can be directive and unique to your particular customer base.
Data Gathering + Communication
With computer recognition software and wardrobe management tools, it is becoming easier to capture specific data from customers. This data can facilitate better user experiences for your mobile and online presence.
Consider using complementing technologies that allow customers to upload their personal wardrobes into a library. Customers can show you what they have and you can suggest styles, new items or just advise them on what to wear. Having a platform that allows pictures to be sent back and forth is a great extension of customer service and can be facilitated through a mobile app and online platform. Your employees can interact with customers digitally and bring them into the store to pick up items.
Every boutique is unique. For every unique situation there is a online and mobile solution available. Avoid getting caught up in the traditional idea of e-commerce. Instead as a boutique, consider your customer base, analyze your sales to help define the details of who your customer is and build the experience your customer needs the most.
Your online/mobile catalogues can consist of new inventory, best selling items, sale items, etc. it totally depends on what your customers want. You can even use your online presence to get customer feedback on items that will soon be available in the store. The possibilities are endless!
Online and mobile experiences are extensions of customer service that should be implored to bring your customers into the store more often, use them to create extensions of your brands that can be in your consumer’s hand 24/7.
For more help and consultation on how an online presence can improve your store, contact Jcouch@luxorandfinch.com.