- Robyn Turk |
More often than not, omnichannel retail involves integrating technological features into a physical store environment to bring the ease of discovery and quick check-out from e-commerce into brick-and-mortar. But one company is bringing the human interactive component of physical retail into the digital sphere.
Omnichannel tech solutions provider Snap+Style Business recently partnered with Revolve to offer the brand its proprietary StyleWidget technology, which allows an online stylist to guide the consumer’s shopping experience when visiting the store online. With the StyleWidget, online shoppers can have the same assistance that they would with an in-store associate.
“Prior to Snap+Style Business, digital shoppers missed the guided shopping experience with an in-store expert [who can give style advice such as,] ‘This color is great on you with your skin tone,’ ‘This dress will fit best because of your body type,’ or ‘The fabric is a lighter blue.’” Anna Jensen, co-founder of Snap+Style Business and chief brand officer, explained to FashionUnited.
“Now through our StyleWidget, shoppers and style experts are able to have and continue that conversation the same as if they were standing in the store together. This all leads to deeper customer profiles and a true and loyal relationship between the shopper and the retailer.”
Jensen explained that while the physical act of seeing and touching the product in person is a tactile experience that cannot be replaced by technology, utilizing human style experts to communicate in real-time with consumers allows the opportunity to provide the consumer detailed responses and a visual experience so thorough that “they might as well be touching the product.”
At the same time, Jensen warned that the most important thing for retailers to keep in mind with personalized e-commerce communication is to make sure to set realistic customer expectations. Today’s digital consumer is very accustomed to working with chat bots that can provide immediate responses. Online stylists must reiterate that they are humans providing personalized advice, and therefore wording might not be exactly right and it might take them time to consider appropriate advice.
“We live in a very on-demand economy, so when there is a wait time, you're making customers change behaviors,” Jensen continued. “If they're not clear with what the program is, they can become frustrated. That's why we try to emphasize and the stylists' backgrounds and familiarize the customers can the expertise they bring and understand it is a very personalized and exciting experience - an individual stylist is going to be putting something together for them.”
Incorporating a human element into digital shopping generates brand loyalty
The human touch is the most necessary element of StyleWidget’s service. It allows the e-commerce store to give consumers one of the most unique offerings of the physical store - the option to engage with the brand in a one-on-one conversation. This builds a relationship between brand and consumer to incite loyalty, in a way that had previously been reserved to brick-and-mortar retail. However, Jensen realizes that AI technology still has a place within this type of service.
Snap+Style Business utilizes Microsoft Azure technology to power StyleWidget, in a partnership that will continue to grow. In the future, the StyleWidget will include AI integration to allow the stylist to improve their time and efficiency. Jensen said that the company is training algorithms using the outfits creations and past conversations between stylist and consumer, which will then be used to speed up the process in which the stylists ideate.
“Though this is not on the customer facing side, it will help improve the customer experience in the end by making the turnaround time faster, while still keeping human connection there,” she explained. “Fashion is more emotional, it's subjective and it changes. It used to change every season, now with fast fashion that changes much more often. And the algorithm can't keep up with that, so we still need human piece to teach it.”
Even with the help of technology, the human stylist will always play an important role in retail, both online and in-store. Snap+Style Business’ service builds upon the consumer desire for a direct, personalized shopping experience that cannot be replicated by artificial intelligence.
“Nobody wants to be styled by an algorithm.,” Jensen concluded. “They want that personalized look that's created just for them and that they're they're being given the advice of not only what to wear, but how to wear it. The point of this service is to mimic that conversation that you would have in store with an actual human, yet now be able to do that directly online. We’re really giving the customer an opportunity to shop anytime, anywhere, the same way that she would if she was in the store.”
Photo: Snap+Style Facebook