In this blog post we wanted to spotlight real-life examples of how some of the industry’s leading retail, omnichannel, and DTC brands are already offering some sort of personalized support, whether it’s posited as personal styling, a virtual concierge, design services, or some other form of personal shopping support.
Candidly, not all of these examples are powered by GhostRetail. But we wanted to illustrate the level of interest and innovation in this space already. Get inspired on how to set up or enhance your virtual shopping experience by reviewing this roundup of some of the best in the biz.
In short, don’t get left behind - the time to implement virtual video shopping is now.
American Eagle Live Shopping
One of the most ambitious and interactive large-scale live shopping experiences has to come from one of the world’s largest retail brands. American Eagle leverages their internal network of employees / influencers to provide live support in a number of ways. Shoppers can join the live shopping queue on demand through the American Eagle website, providing real-time guidance on sizing and new products. In addition, their influential employees also promote the service to their personal networks and invite fans to come ‘shop with them’ virtually.
Revolve Style Experts
As a marketplace site with thousands of items, navigating through Revolve’s expansive inventory can be overwhelming for even the savviest shopper. Enter their personal styling service. Revolve promotes a group of ‘Style Experts’ by putting not just a face to a name, but a bio and examples of outfits they’ve personally styled. Shoppers can book styling appointments to get personalized looks for a specific event or trip, as well as get ideas for finishing off a look and finding the right fit.
Reitman's La Conciergerie
Canadian women's retailer Reitman's offers one on one personalized styling sessions online, as well as in-store during select times of year or at select stores. Their online appointments cover a range of creative themes, like '10 Pieces, 10 Looks', or 'Silhouette 101'. But if a customer is simply looking for an every day shop, they can also book a simple 'Wardrobe Therapy' session to track down a new look in no time.
Room & Board Design Services
Virtual shopping isn’t just for fashion and apparel brands. Mega housewares and furniture brand Room & Board offers shoppers free design services whether accessed in-store, via the phone, or through a virtual appointment. As you’ll see in our live video shopping use case guide for furniture and housewares brands, one of the unique elements of offering virtual appointments is for the first time, designers can see into a customer’s space, instead of a customer having to envision things while in a physical store.
Estee Lauder Online Beauty Lessons
While pretty much all of Estee Lauder's global sites offer some form of appointment booking for in-store consultations, their UK site goes the extra mile and actually offers virtual consultations as well. Prospective shoppers can sign up for tutorials on how to create specific looks, build out a routine, or track down a gift - all free of charge.
Dick’s Sporting Goods Styling Experience
The virtual reality shopping needs for customers on Dick’s Sporting Goods are a little unique. For example, some customers accessing their Styling Experience might be simply shopping for back-to-school looks from the store’s extensive collection of streetwear. Others might be looking for an outfit or gear for a specific activity - like a hiking trip or tennis tournament. DSG stylists are available to meet with in-person at select retail stores, or virtually, and shoppers have the opportunity to browse stylist profiles before booking. Discover other live shopping use cases for sporting goods brands.
Tiffany & Co. Virtual Appointments
Shopping for diamonds online can be a daunting task. Tiffany & Co. offers both in-store and virtual consultations; a must-have considering the brand’s limited brick and mortar footprint. Shoppers can connect with an associate to shop specifically for diamonds and track down the right sparkler for their occasion, or get personalized recommendations and styling advice from the line’s latest collections. Brush up on other sparkling live shopping use cases for the luxury goods sector.
Poppy Barley Virtual Shopping
To be clear, not every live shopping experience requires enterprise-grade virtual stores. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of examples we could have included of smaller businesses that have found value in offering live shopping. Poppy Barley, a bespoke footwear line, stands out for being one of the few footwear brands out there to dive into live shopping - a surprise given how iffy footwear can fit and how challenging it can be to size online on your own. The brand promises to help shoppers get the ideal fit, compare different styles, and get up close and personal with their artisan accessories and shoes.
Floor & Decor Design Services
The team at Floor & Decor knows your options are pretty limitless when designing or upgrading a space. So they offer free design services out of their stores or virtually, to help put shoppers on the right track. No matter your budget, their designers will meet with you to style a look, talk through building material needs and installations, and suggest accessories to provide the finishing touch. The best part? If you're shopping virtually with them, their designer will have a chance to actually 'walk through' your home and see what exactly you're working with.
Coach In-Store Styling Advice and Virtual Shopping
Plenty of ecommerce sites offer live chat, but Coach specifically calls out offering live chat with their in-store stylists. Not only that, shoppers can also connect with their local retail stores to book a virtual or in-store styling appointment to discover what’s new and what they need in their wardrobes. Learn about other fashion use cases for live shopping beyond styling.
One Stop Wine Shop Virtual Wine Experiences
When travel is challenging, some innovative wine merchants have found ways to bring their products and tasting experiences virtually. Shoppers on One Stop Wine Shop can source a wine tasting immersive experience of their choice with Trinchero Family Estates, including multiple bottles of wine shipped to their home and a private wine tasting hosted by a professional sommelier. You can bet these sommeliers are busy recommending other wines and teeing up future purchases along the way. Read about this and other food and beverage use cases for live shopping.
Get transported right into the heart of the fashion industry with Gucci Live, an exclusive video shopping service housed out of the Gucci 9 center in Florence, Italy. Shoppers can connect live to explore the latest designer pieces, or they can request appointments for future dates. Shoppers aren’t on video in Gucci’s live styling sessions, but they will have a window into the Gucci store directly.
Fable Virtual Shopping
Tableware brand Fable has strong roots in the DTC space. While they’ve since expanded to wholesale and brick and mortar channels, the brand also offers virtual appointments. Customers can get a closer look at Fable’s serveware up close, talk through styling ideas, and get recommendations on what’ll work best in their space. While the sessions are short at just 15 minutes, it’s a unique offering from a brand in a niche category.
Tadashi Shoji Virtual Appointments
Wedding dresses, bridesmaid gowns, and formalwear are not purchases one makes lightly - even in stores. That's why Tadashi Shoji offers multiple online consultations for their luxurious apparel collection. Whether you're on the hunt for a bridal gown or simply looking for some styling advice, they offer free consultations to help shoppers pull the trigger on bigger purchases. Bonus points for their two-in-one virtual hemming service that guides customers on how to pin a garment before sending it their way for alterations.
Nordstrom Stylist Services
No surprise here - the masters of customer care offer plenty of virtual styling options on their website. Nordstrom has an entire stylist directory, in fact, where consumers can browse different stylist profiles and see looks that specific stylists have curated. If they find a stylist whose vibe they love, they can book a free styling session or request for an outfit to be styled for them, which is presented in a handy ‘Style Board’ format. Naturally, Nordstrom’s one-on-one styling sessions can also be booked in store and the site is chockful of on-demand inspiration.
360Eyecare Shop Virtually
Never mind shopping with a personal stylist - how about shopping with an optician? 360Eyecare offers free online virtual shopping appointments for customers looking to track down the right pair of prescription eyeglasses or sunglasses. These 30-minute appointments give shoppers the opportunity to browse a selection of frames to choose the right one for them, with a touch of medical expertise delivered alongside.
Microsoft Personal Shopping
With Microsoft's personal shopping services, you can either visit a Microsoft store or hop on (what else?) a Microsoft Teams call to co-shop with a professional shopper. During your call, associates can help track down gifts as well as choose what specific technology they're looking for shopping support on. From there, they'll be matched to a personal shopper that's an expert in their desired area, making it easy (easier, anyway) to choose between a Razer Blade 15 or an Acer Nitro 5 at long last.
Swarovski Virtual Shopping Experience
Customers looking for a tour of Swarovski's glittering stores need not leave their homes, thanks to the brand's virtual shopping offering. Customers can connect with a live in-store associate to browse products, see them up close, and get questions answered - all while building their crystal-embellished wish list!
Aesop Live Video Consultations
Luxury skincare brand Aesop offers live video consults to help consumers land on the right regimen for their individual needs. These 30-minute sessions can be booked with a specific practitioner, giving customers the opportunity to build a relationship with a specific skincare expert over time. That’s just one use case of many we can think of health and beauty brands to adopt live shopping - check out more inspiration here.
Mejuri Virtual Shopping Appointments
Given Mejuri’s popularity with the digitally native set, it only makes sense the brand would give customers the option to connect with them through virtual shopping appointments. Shoppers can book 15-minute video shopping calls to talk through sizing and styling ideas. Best of all, these virtual appointments let consumers view products up close and from any angle, including how they look together.
Arc’teryx Virtual Advisor
The last thing outdoor adventurers want on their big treks is the wrong gear. Enter Arc’teryx and their virtual advisor services. Shoppers get linked up for a one-on-one session with an Arc’teryx expert via video conference. After talking through what gear they’re in need of (and their destination), they’ll recommend key products for any excursion.
Blue Nile Virtual Appointments
Buying an engagement ring is never easy - especially if it's done online. While Blue Nile is one of the world's largest online diamond retailers, sometimes meeting in person can be the difference between and a sale and a 'see ya later'. Their virtual online shopping experience connects shoppers with diamond experts to look at products up close, including the use of multiple cameras to give shoppers a view of products from any angle.
West Elm Design Services
Interior design on the mind? Tap into West Elm’s free design services, including on-demand text chat, or booking appointments that take place in-store, in-home, or the best of both worlds - virtually. Shoppers can get decorating tips, work on a floor plan, choose a color palette, find home organization solutions, and more, all for free.
Aspinal of London Virtual Personal Shopping Appointments
Luxury handbag brand Aspinal is a classic British staple, primarily sold through high end department stores and the brand’s own flagship. Now Aspinal fans can get a glimpse into any of these storefronts by booking virtual appointments at the location of their choice, where a store associate will serve as their shopping concierge. These sessions are positioned as bespoke shopping experiences without needing to leave the comfort of your own home - which is a good thing, considering 100% of the brand’s physical store locations are located in the UK. Ultimately Aspinal has found a way to give their global audience a virtual store experience by request.
Madewell Stylist Video Chat
Shoppers looking for a little extra support while they shop on Madewell.com can now book video chats with a group of dedicated stylists. The onboarding process includes a helpful questionnaire to narrow down a shopper’s preferences or fit hangups. Plus, consumers can choose a stylist that specializes in a specific area, such as extended sizes or petites. It’s worth noting that Madewell has a bit of a virtual store approach to their personal online shopping services, meaning a customer won’t necessarily be connected to a physical store, but instead, synced up with Madewell stylists working from home or a studio space.
Pottery Barn Design Crew Interior Design Services
Those looking for a little extra visual inspiration need look no further than Pottery Barn’s free suite of interior design services. Customers can book a complimentary 60-minute consultation that takes place in their home, in a Pottery Barn physical store, or virtually. The result is mood boards and product recommendations, as well as cost estimates for specific room designs - giving Pottery Barn the chance to curate a room (and sell more product) while simplifying the design process for homeowners.
Burberry Personalised Appointment Services
Hop into a Burberry Virtual Showroom and get a taste of the luxury line’s latest pieces - a perfect solution for shoppers who don’t have a Burberry boutique nearby. Customers can select their desired time and provide details about what they’re looking for, including sizes - which can be relevant even for virtual sessions. Of course, consumers can also opt for in-store appointments, as well as aftercare appointments if a product needs refurbishing or a touchup.
Lululemon Video Chat
Activewear can be a tenuous category to shop online, particularly for new shoppers with lululemon. It’s no wonder then that the brand has spun up a live video chat service, where shoppers can get product recommendations, talk through fit, track down gift recommendations, and learn more about lululemon’s Mirror product. Shoppers that don’t want to connect 1:1 over video chat can also just text the brand, or even host a small virtual private shopping event with loved ones, colleagues, or yoga buddies.
Urban Barn Virtual Shopping
Unlike some of the other home furnishings brands on this list, Urban Barn actually offers two unique virtual shopping experiences. The first is their Virtual Design Studio, which mimics some of the other design services other housewares retailers are serving up - offering a consultation, mood board, photos, and a personalized shopping list. The second option is a more traditional virtual shopping session, which lets shoppers connect with a sales associate in the retail location of their choice to ‘walk the floor’ and find exactly what they’re looking for - from the comfort of their homes, offices, or wherever. Either way, shoppers have multiple ways to get design support while they browse.
Anthropologie Personal Styling Appointments
Shoppers interested in a little personal attention while they shop will definitely want to take advantage of Anthropologie’s free styling services. Customers can book in-store, virtual, or email consultations, as well as kick off live chats on demand. When booking a virtual appointment, shoppers get to choose from a range of options like shopping for a trip, seasonally updating their wardrobe, or tracking down a gift. They also fill out a brief survey to speak to preferences, tastes, and sizing, to make the session as effective as possible.
Holt Renfrew Personal Shopping
It should come as no surprise that as the largest luxury department store in Canada, Holt Renfrew has a crew of personal stylists on staff. Shoppers can browse stylist profiles and check out their latest picks at any time. Once they land on a stylist they connect with, they can hop on a live chat, book an appointment, or submit a one-off request via a form. They can even choose to sign up for a stylist’s personal emails to get their latest picks. The result is a range of on-demand styling advice options to suit busy shoppers’ lifestyles.
Cult favorite UK fashion brand Paul Smith posits their personal shopping services as a convenient way to shop from home, the office, or in-store. Getting booked into a call is a pretty rudimentary affair: Customers simply submit their emails and what they’re looking for an appointments of up to an hour are booked from there, with shoppers completing their purchases via a secure payment link.
Macy’s Personal Stylists
Gift-giving, event-based shopping, decor updates, or just needing some guidance with your wardrobe - Macy’s personal online shopping services promises to support all of these use cases for virtual shopping and more. Getting linked up with a stylist is a pretty seamless experience too. Shoppers request dates and times, highlight what they’re shopping for, choose how much time they have to get their shop on, and can even attach some photos if it’ll help guide the stylist. As with many omnichannel retailers, Macy’s lets shoppers choose from in-store or virtual appointments.
Fossil Virtual Personal Shopping
Whether shopping for yourself or for a gift, Fossil’s Virtual Personal Shopping services are sure to be a help. The company lets you connect directly with an in-store associate who can try on items, style accessories together, and hunt down the perfect present. Not only that, they also offer free Smartwatch Support sessions as part of the same service, to get the less tech savvy up and on their way.
Shoppers can team up with a Reiss stylist for one hour at no charge through the upmarket high street brand’s virtual shopping appointments. Prior to the session, stylists actually connect with shoppers to learn more about what they’re looking for, so they can expertly tailor the session. The live online shopping appointments are then kicked off with a full rack of clothes ready to review for whatever occasion or season a shopper is looking for.
Kay Jewelers Appointments
Whether you’re popping the question or popping in for gift advice, Kay Jewelers provides free online appointments with their jewelry experts. Shoppers can even dig deep on specific areas of interest, like watches, or walk through a custom design project to get their ideal sparkler built right. As with many omnichannel retailers, shoppers can also opt for an in-person appointment, offering maximum flexibilty.
Crate&Barrel The Design Desk
Yet another home furnishings brand offering free virtual design services, Crate&Barrel touts their Design Desk as an advanced suite of professional designer support - for free. Like other housewares retailers, Crate&Barrel offers both in-store and online appointments, as well as the ability to have a quick connect with a designer over chat if they have a brief question. Tapping into Crate’s full designer services however, includes mood boards, 2D floor plans, as well as 3D room views and 360 degree tours, among other perks.
Jimmy Choo Virtual Appointments
Luxury footwear comes with a higher level of consideration - something Jimmy Choo is supporting by offering both in-store and virtual appointments for their customers. Interested shoppers get to choose what date they meet on and provide a wish list, as well as selecting how they’ll be contacted for their session. With those details in hand, shoppers are connected with a personal stylist to make the most of their online browsing.
Williams Sonoma Design Crew Interior Design Services
Like several other home and design virtual shopping experiences on this list, Williams Sonoma offers free appointments available virtually, in-home, or in-store. Each experience offers their own benefits too - virtual appointments are great for customers that aren't near a Williams Sonoma design expert, while in-store visits are perfect for shoppers who want to see something up close and in person. If a shopper isn't in need of a full-blown consultation, the next best option is always on standby, via live chat with one of Williams Sonoma's design experts.
Creating an ideal virtual shopping experience
Not all virtual shopping experiences are created equal. We saw a huge range of ways customers can access virtual reality shopping support, some of which are more seamless than others.
It starts by mastering video chat best practices. Then, it’s onto creating a seamless and enjoyable experience that shoppers will want to return to again and again.
Here are five key ways to improve the virtual shopping experience for every customer.
Make sure online shoppers know you offer virtual shopping
Put callouts on product detail pages, the home page, and even collection pages spotlighting virtual shopping support is available. As well, add callouts in your footer, customer account center, contact us page, and on sections like size guides. Don’t forget about other methods to promote virtual shopping, like email, SMS, or social.
Don’t take shoppers off-site to book appointments
Many of the personal shopping services we saw involved customers needing to register for an appointment on some sort of offsite experience, usually powered by a calendar app. Once that customer is off your site, they might not come back - and they might not attend that appointment. Keep bookings within the site experience, or ideally, even on the very PDP they were browsing. While we’re on the subject - make it simple and seamless for shoppers to book. Sending an email into the abyss and having to manually land on a timeslot that works for you both is painful and not likely to convert many shoppers.
Offer both on-demand and appointment services
If someone is seeking out help from an actual human, chances are they want answers right then and there. Waiting for an appointment slot can defuse a shopper’s interest in an item. On-demand co-shopping can help higher intent online customers get the support they need on the fly, at least during peak hours. Pro tip: GhostRetail offers on-demand co-shopping services that can be throttled on and off when call volumes rise.
Make sure online shoppers can add to cart and checkout during an appointment
Many of the virtual shopping services out there are remnants from peak Covid-19 days, when ‘tape and glue’ virtual shopping technology solutions were rapidly stitched together. Being sent a Zoom link or connecting on a WhatsApp call just doesn’t have the polish you’d expect. An ideal virtual shopping experience goes beyond just a basic video chat, and includes co-shopping. With co-shopping, live shopping associates can share products, co-browse through a site with a shopper, and even add items to cart. With a solution like GhostRetail, we also enable you to check out with a shopper. Let’s face it: Video chats lack urgency because shoppers still need to take that extra step of converting outside of a call.
Provide a range of personal shopping options
The more options for personal shopping provided, the higher the likelihood shoppers will book. For example, many omnichannel brands will offer in-store and virtual shopping appointments. But it’s important to separate the two, or risk have shoppers feel confused about whether they’ve accidentally booked into a store in Los Angeles when they’re actually based in Orlando.
Other things to think about: For fashion brands, give shoppers the chance to browse stylist profiles and connect with someone whose personal style aligns with their own. Have different brands or product lines? Have specific product experts on hand - like a Nike pro or adidas superfan at a sporting goods store.
Ultimately, your virtual stores and virtual shopping experience should be built around how you already know your customers like to shop. Get inspired by any of the brands on this list? Or, better yet, are you one of the brands on this list?
We love the idea of virtual stores and offering online video shopping - but we think it can be better. That’s why we created GhostRetail; a fully-featured live video shopping platform that gives customers the ultimate convenience of shopping from anywhere, with the bespoke customer service experience they’re used to receiving.