Do Online Shoppers Miss Personalized Advice?

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With online shopping becoming more popular, it’s posing challenges for retailers to ensure consumers the same service and way to connect. While convenience is key, many shoppers still look for the same level of service online that they would get from in-store associates. Salesfloor, a retail technology platform, recently conducted a study to help retailers understand the gap between the in-store and online shopping experiences.

Over the summer, Downtown conducted a survey geared toward millennials about their thoughts on online shopping, and found that 60 percent of millennials prefer in-store shopping as opposed to e-commerce when it comes to service. 83 percent of those surveyed also believed it’s “necessary to try or test the product prior to purchasing.”

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According to Luxury Daily, Salesfloor “respondents were between the ages of 18 and 65 years of age, with male and female shoppers equally represented.” The survey found that consumers also preferred in-store shopping as opposed to the click-and-go routine of e-commerce, partly because of the in-store personalized assistance one can receive from sales associates.

Although some clothing websites offer a “live-chat” option with employees for assistance, “87 percent of shoppers sa[id] their in-store purchase decisions are influenced by store associates,” according to Salesfloor.

But because we live in a world of technology, some brands are beginning to merge online shopping with in-store qualities.

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Hugo Boss recently launched Boss On Demand in partnership with Uber and UberCentral, allowing clients to schedule an in-store appointment online where an Uber will pick them up and bring them to the store, where stylists and associates will assist in their shopping experience. The Hugo Boss location in the Westfield World Trade Center also offers delivery of clothing and other services.

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Photography by Romer Pedron for Saks Fifth Avenue

Saks Fifth Avenue is also expanding its e-commerce to better benefit its customers. Saks is now “offering [a service] that brings the retailer’s in-store experience directly to its online shoppers,” Luxury Daily reported back in March, where associates will be available through live-chat on their website 24/7. This allows employees to communicate with its consumers at any given moment, offering styling tips and curated products, to make up for the lack of personalization online.

At any clothing store, especially a high-end brand, consumers expect a certain level of assistance while shopping. When dealing with an associate who knows the store better than you do, their advice is valuable and not easily replaced by the key factors of online shopping such as convenience and accessibility. With the two great shopping centers Brookfield Place and Westfield home to some of Downtown’s favorite brands like TheoryCOS and John Varvatos it will be interesting to see what the future shopping experience will look like – whether it be in-store or online. One thing is sure, shopping never goes out of style.