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Stylists Look At Past Purchases To Tailor Advice Over Live Chat [Future Of Retail]

Modcloth's 'modstylists' give customers one-on-one fashion advice based on past purchases and preferences.

Allie Walker
Allie Walker on July 14, 2012. @NYC_Allie

Our latest Future Of Retail Report looks at the trend of Service With An Opt-In. One manifestation of this theme is Modcloth- a women’s fashion e-retailer that lets customers submit personal data prior to having a one-on-one consultation with a fashion stylist in order to receive recommendations based on their unique style preferences and spending habits. As part of this live-chat feature, the company gives shoppers the option to share information regarding their past interactions with the brand, including their past purchase history, ‘loved’ items online, and their current wishlists. The initiative is aimed at helping ModCloth consultants gain a better sense of their customers’ personal style along with their past and present preferences, in order to make more personalized product recommendations and deliver a better level of attention and service. We spoke to Modstylist Amy Hirt, to get her thoughts.

Please introduce us to Modcloth. How does it work to differentiate itself from other e-retailers?

ModCloth is a very customer-interactive company. We have programs like Be the Buyer, where customers vote on styles they would buy, a blog that reaches out to the trends and and interests of “the ModCloth girl” and ModStylists, who are a tool for helping customers find their style or the perfect outfit for their special event. We recently launched a Make the Cut Contest, where customers submitted their sketches, went through a social media voting process, and the actual garments were brought to life and sold on our site. ModCloth wants to hear what customers have to say, and we use their feedback in every facet of the company.

Tell us about the Modstylist service. How does its live-chat option on Facebook enhance its shopping experience?

We are a unique service because we are like personal online shoppers. Customers can share with us their body types/sizes, style inspirations and any details about themselves that we listen to and use to help them find what they are looking for. Customers appreciate the real-life style advice, plus the outfit photos we upload weekly to the site to show how to wear or style an item.

Are there any notable figures or statistics around customer engagement and usage?

While we answer hundreds of style consultation emails per month from customers all over the world, we also take on about 30 Tumblr questions a week, post to Facebook and answer questions and have gained 16,114 fans! We also have a presence on Chictopia, Pinterest and Flickr.

modcloth-modstylists-facebook

We have have noticed that customers are sharing their personal data with retailers and brands through opt-in platforms to receive a better, more personal level of service. Do you see this trend manifesting on a wider scale? How so?

We want ModCloth customers to feel as though they are part of a community. Right now, we encourage leaving product reviews on items they have bought and including their measurements and sizes. This is definitely a feature many sites have today, but it’s only the beginning for us. We’d love to see even more customer interaction on our site, from sharing outfit photos in reviews, to creating a site that is fun to visit and be a part of on a daily basis.

Why is accessing past purchase history and preferences important for Modstylists? What challenges related to personalized customer service is this helping to overcome? How have customers responded to this level of personalization?

Most customers are totally open to us checking their past purchase history. It gives us a sense of what people have previously purchased, or what’s in their wishlist so we know the styles/sizes/colors they prefer. Sometimes customers leave minimal info in our consultation form, so it’s hard to gauge what they are looking for, exactly. We definitely respect customers privacy, so if they opt out of sharing this info, we understand.

A summary of PSFK’s Future of Retail report is available to view for free - and a download of the full 100 page document can be ordered today.

 

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