Ask anyone studying fashion how many times they have been asked if they design clothing. It’s not a crazy assumption given the very narrow general understanding of fashion studies, the assumption’s stem from a general lack of understanding of what a fashion student does while in school. When I tell people I am a graduate student studying design they automatically assume clothing design, maybe pattern design they never guess that I design experiences.
Specifically, I design online retail experiences and in-store experiences that integrate digital innovation and social commerce for the benefit of the customer. Virtual experiences are the highest level of customer service extended to an online customer. Online virtual experiences are meant to engage , wow, assist andcommunicate with the customer through various platforms. This experience itself can be summed up conceptually as a “Virtual Stylist”.
Contrary to current understandings of the term “Virtual Stylist” my virtual styling is not an actual person facilitating an experience, instead it is a group of digital innovations that are specific to the brands objective for high level customer interaction. No matter what the brand is there are components to the experience that are uniform across the board and necessary. Here are a few concepts that online experiences can learn from in-store experiences.
Information- Personal shoppers and stylist ( and all great sales people) understand the importance of gathering information from the customer.
Every piece of data that can be collected is very important during the online experience. Data analysis on the website and customer purchase histories are vital key pieces to predicting shopping behaviors.
Casual words– To better mimic conversation, information presented to customers should be less formal and more casual for a more personal effect. In a sense share less data and more analysis. Understand what the customer wants and try not to bombard them with information they could misinterpret (some sizing data is overwhelming. Consequently, customers can still be confused about what to buy even after being presented with accurate information).
Product Knowledge – Usually, product knowledge is transferred from the sales associate to the customer. Without an actual sales associate, product information has to be delivered cleverly, subtly and when needed, directly on the website. Knowing which questions to answer is the key.
Intuition– Great sales associates have great intuition about what their customers want and what they will buy. Proper algorithms and data analysis of online shopping habits and behaviors can help create intuition for stores to better sell to customers.
These are just a few general techniques to help create virtual styling experiences. Actual technique have to be tailor made for the brand and the specific customer.