Olivela turns to virtual style advice and direct mail to reach shoppers.

Online luxury apparel retailer Olivela has adjusted its services so that customers feel more engaged during the coronavirus pandemic, says Stacey Boyd, founder and CEO. The retailer has added new virtual services for shoppers such as one-on-one appointments with Olivela buyers, virtual styling services and virtual events.

“Recently we’ve offered 15-minute one-on-one beauty consultations with Olivela’s beauty gurus,” Boyd says.

In April Olivela sent consumers who signed up for the sessions through Instagram a brief questionnaire asking about their skin type and product preferences. Experts then picked products for each participant and hosted a live virtual consultation with each consumer, describing the products and offering advice, Boyd says. Participants received a follow-up email that included the links to the products highlighted during their virtual session. The virtual sessions were a huge driver for new customers, Boyd says.

80% of consumers who signed up for a session had never purchased from the retailer before. The sessions also generated a 20% conversion rate over two days, Boyd says.

Olivela donates 20% of proceeds from every purchase to support women’s empowerment and educating at-risk girls around the world. The site launched in 2017 with 12 brands and it now sells more than 525 brands.

Because so much is turning digital with people not able to physically go into offices during the pandemic, Boyd is going in the opposite direction through direct-mail advertising to bring a human element to the retailer’s marketing efforts. Shoppers who have made prior purchases with Olivela will soon receive a personalized brochure including information on their purchase and how the product has helped send a young girl to school, specific information who that girl is and more.

“Showing just how much their purchase has made an impact and bringing our mission into each customer’s home allows us to continue fostering our relationships and truly build a community with our customers,” Boyd says.

The retailer also found that physical separation is in some ways bringing employees closer together—a change that Boyd says is helping the company’s leadership better understand and relate to employees. For example, Olivela, holds a weekly meeting where the entire company, including all offices from London and New York and its warehouse in Ohio, get together to talk about what is going on in their lives as well as discuss company news.

“We kick off each meeting by going around and telling the team what we’ve tried this week that we haven’t done before quarantine. Through this, we’ve been able to truly connect as a team and learn more about each other’s new hobbies and passions. We’ve enjoyed this so much that we will continue to do this once we are back in our office,” Boyd says.

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