The retailer's improved text message program now accounts for between 10% and 15% of weekly online sales, compared with 2-4% before COVID-19.

67-year-old luxury men’s apparel brand Harry Rosen prides itself on the relationships its store stylists build with shoppers. But with its 14 Canada-based stores shut for more than five months now, Harry Rosen needed to get creative to keep those relationships alive. It’s now relying on text messages, web technology and virtual appointments to connect with shoppers on a personal level, says Ian Rosen, executive vice president, digital and strategy for the retailer.

Harry Rosen, which generates around $300 million in annual sales, says ecommerce sales nearly tripled in 2020 over 2019, and online sales accounted for more than one-third of sales in 2020, compared with 7% to 8% the year before. “Online is picking up some of the slack from stores being shut, but not all of it,” Rosen says.

To further drive web sales growth, Harry Rosen in May 2020 launched virtual appointments using scheduling software from Jrni. Shoppers book an appointment through the retailer’s website and use the Jrni platform to start a video chat via their browser without having to install any software, Rosen says. The retailer’s approximately 400 store clothing advisors today conduct on average about one appointment per day, and Harry Rosen employs a team of five full-time clothing advisors who take appointments all day, Rosen says. Shoppers also have the option pick a store stylist they have worked with before for their virtual appointments, Rosen adds.

As COVID-19 has worn on, these appointments have “increased profoundly,” Rosen says, noting that the average number of appointments per week has far more than doubled since May, without being more specific.

Harry Rosen was already in talks with Jrni before the pandemic to launch virtual appointments, but it accelerated the project when COVID-19 hit, Rosen says, launching a more simple version that isn’t as polished or branded as originally planned to get to market quickly. Through Jrni, shoppers also can book an in-home appointment, if they are comfortable, and they will be able to book in-store appointments when shops open back up, Rosen says.

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Jrni’s platform facilitates both video and in-person appointments, and it integrates with customer relationship management systems such as Salesforce.com Inc. and calendar systems such as Microsoft Corp. It also provides analytics such as conversions and sales from appointments. The software enables businesses to cancel, reschedule or view appointments. Associates also get an at-a-glance view of their virtual and store appointment calendars, as well as insight into the customers they’re scheduled to see, such as their order history and past communications with the retailer. Jrni also handles automated appointment confirmation emails, email reminders and follow-up communications.

Beyond video consultations, Harry Rosen also has a robust text message-based consultation program, Rosen says. Harry Rosen invested “heavily” in that program, which launched in August 2019, and has added more functionality since the pandemic, such as saving shoppers’ color and size preferences. The text message program is a way for repeat and loyal store shoppers who have developed a rapport with Harry Rosen’s store clothing advisors to continue their shopping relationship with them despite stores being temporarily closed.

 

Harry Rosen’s advisers build curated looks and product pages for shoppers.

The program allows advisors to text with their clients about preferences, gather info, such as past orders, and build curated looks that shoppers can add to their cart with one-click. Then, using an app on their phone, advisers build curated looks and provide links to clients to access their personalized page where they can add some or all products to their cart (with sizes and colors pre-selected) and purchase. Harry Rosen uses Bold Commerce for the shopping cart portion of its program.

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Advisers earn a commission through these appointments as they would through store appointments, the retailer says. “It’s less of an appointment and more of an outcome of a relationship,” Rosen says. “If my store advisor has always been Jeremy and Jeremy knows my size and preferences, it lets me digitize that relationship with him,” Rosen says.

The text message program now accounts for between 10% and 15% of weekly online sales, compared with 2-4% before COVID-19, Rosen says. Virtual appointments have helped Harry Rosen’s store employees continue to bring in sales while shops are closed, Rosen says. “At the beginning of COVID, we had to send all store employees home. With these appointments, they are still able to be productive,” he says.

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