Competition in adult retail is always increasing, making the shopping experience almost as important as the products in winning over customers. So, it should come as no surprise that many retailers are leaving no area untouched in an attempt to please their customers and keep them coming.
Indeed, a wave of retailers (not just in adult goods) are now offering various in-store and online services to enhance the entire shopping experience like never before. Think of by-appointment personal shopping services in which salespeople track down specific items for customers, host private viewings for them, and then organize one-on-one sessions to get the design or fit exactly right.
Nowadays it’s the uniqueness of the experience that has become important in driving sales and loyalty among a more fickle consumer base.
Then there are those who invite their highest-spending customers to exclusive events and offer fully paid-for trips to product shows where they are escorted by their very own salesperson. Some retailers even offer personal shopping suites complete with a shower and vanity room, while others truly go above and beyond, arranging hotel bookings and other experiences. The point of these examples is to show that the possibilities really are endless.
That’s right, personal shopping services are no longer restricted to simply helping customers complete their shopping lists. From after-hours store openings and dedicated staff through to private lounges and events for specific clients, these services are aimed at not only enhancing the customer experience but also encouraging more spending — and on featured products.
Personal shopping appointments provide a ripe opportunity to increase customer exposure to products and services that would not otherwise be considered. That said, the product range should still be curated to suit the customer’s budget, needs, preferences and reasons why they are shopping.
It’s this attention to detail, combined with personableness, that enables a personal shopper to become a confidante and relied-upon source of trusted opinions. “You’re right, this is exactly what I need!”
Giving this kind of service is being increasingly pushed in the competitive luxury goods market where it can engage customers, increase their loyalty and their spending. It’s also making its way into the mass market, where customer spending is limited and brand loyalty is harder to maintain. Some of the more affordable retailers have introduced personal shopping services too, particularly in response to growing demand for product advice.
Sure, salespeople have always provided this advice to customers, but nowadays it’s the uniqueness of the experience that has become important in driving sales and loyalty among a more fickle consumer base.
Getting Intimate Online
At this point you may be thinking that personal shopping services are well and good for brick-and-mortar retailers, but what about e-commerce stores? The trend towards personalized shopping is burgeoning online too, with a range of apps entering the space. Some online retailers now have employee teams of personal shoppers scouting for products within their stores, and even those of partners, following requests submitted via app.
One need only look at the reported increase in shopping requests, average order value and customer retention rate to know it’s worth the investment. And for online stores with shop fronts too, apps provide a way to scale their services, as well as offer app-only products to encourage a sense of exclusivity.
Becoming Best Friends
Clearly, personal shoppers can be seen by customers as not only time-savers or miracle workers but also new best friends. Allowing another person to help you shop can be an intimate experience because you’re letting them into your private world, and this is no truer than in adult goods retail.
Your shopper knows what you have at home and the activities likely to ensue, and these are matters most people would only share with those closest to them. This sneak peek into customers’ private lives can be a goldmine for retailers, providing valuable insight into who they are, how they shop and why.
Imagine having a product that you believe in but that is not selling. It goes through rounds of discounts but remains on the shelf. Personal shopping services can help retailers understand why. By engaging with customers in private appointments, retailers can begin to identify what is and what is not working, and how to move forward.
Data analysis can only take retailers so far. It’s through forming direct relationships with customers that retailers can gain access to information about them, on multiple levels, which they would not otherwise have. The results can be used to move towards a truly personalized shopping experience and follow-up strategies.
Choosing Your Shoppers
Identifying the benefits of personal shoppers is one thing, but choosing them is another. Those in adult goods retail arguably face more challenges than in other markets, like clothing, jewelry and homewares.
One of the main reasons for using sex toys is to experience pleasure, be it alone or with company. But choose the wrong toy for the purpose, or use the right toy in the wrong way, and the outcome may be not just disappointing but downright dangerous. The best personal shoppers are those who can provide safe, practical advice backed by education and experience. Think sexology credentials, including certified sex/sexuality coach, counselor, therapist, educator or sexologist.
By the same token, adult goods retailers would be well-advised to provide their salespeople and customer support staff with high-quality product training on a regular basis so that they are in the best position to respond to customer questions and provide sound advice. Ultimately, offering personal shopping services can not only improve a retailer’s bottom line, but it can also make all the difference to the customer's experience.
Vanessa Rose a certified sex coach and the founder of Sex Kitten Club (www.SexKittenClub.com), which empowers adults to achieve sexual and relationship success.