Consumers are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with automated recommendation services, and are coming to expect personalisation with a human touch. ZenithOptimedia expects concierge-like services to spread beyond fashion and upscale retail to new categories in 2016, democratising the personal shopping experience.
Smart recommendation and personalisation tools have helped fuel the rise of e-commerce by providing consumers with new utility and convenience. But online retail has made the overall shopping experience less personal, because consumers are spending less time interacting with real people.
This personal touch is something consumers are starting to miss: research from ResponseTap shows that 73% of consumers prefer to speak to a contact centre before actually making their purchase. Receiving a recommendation from a fellow human being, instead of a behavioural algorithm, helps to ‘re-humanise’ the consumer’s shopping experience.
Fashion has already proved that convenience with a human touch can still be affordable. In the UK several high-street brands have introduced personal styling appointments in store, free of charge. These VIP-style appointments give consumers the undivided attention of a personal shopper for 30 minutes, to aid them in their consideration stage. Consumers expect more than just a recommendation based on their previous purchases and searches, and value the opinions of experts who can provide them with new and original insights.
Other services like The Chapar – which sends boxes of garments put together based on personal telephone consultations – exemplify how brands can offer services that are bespoke, personal and empathetic, while still giving the consumer a hassle-free experience.
So far, the fashion category has pioneered the introduction of personal shopping services, but other fields are experimenting too: paint brand Dulux has launched an interior design service that allows customers to redesign their home room by room for a reasonable £75. We believe that in 2016 similar services will spread to other categories, such as accessories, electronics, personal care, furniture, and high-end food, and even offer seasonal advice such as personalised gift shopping for the festive season.