Amidst uncertainty and customers’ changing expectations, many retailers have looked to shift their approaches to facilitate a truly omnichannel offering. Retailers have looked to focus on the digital high street, catering for consumers that don’t want to return to in-person shopping and travel to retail centres. We take a look at The Cotswold Company‘s virtual ‘Go In Store’ service, giving an instore experience for online customers.
Since December 2020, The Cotswold Company team offered a live video service to customers whereby walkthroughs and virtual tours of the store have been given. This advice and help in real time whilst viewing the products proved all important in pushing lockdown sales. On top of that, it has been a great way for store staff to connect with people and also provide a top-quality customer service.
The move to offer a body cam style shopping experience was a needed pivot for The Cotswold Company, who had to temporarily close all shops due to social distancing rules enforced in March 2020. This was a great success, with showrooms taking sales of 2/3 the figures they achieved when open!
To keep up with the number of incoming ‘Go In Store’ requests and not let customers down, staff trialled extending working hours into the evening. This virtual shopping experience helped to reduce furlough levels during the third national lockdown during the busy Christmas period (Cotswold reported a 44% festive sales hike). They had 30 staff across all stores, with 90% not on furlough as they were been able to move across to the customer service team. Of course, no staff were forced to physically go in, but most wanted to keep busy and do so.
To put this into context, January 2021 to February 21 income from The Cotswold Company’s bricks and mortar stores totalled £1m, as a direct result of the ‘Go In Store’ experience. With a further £470k spent online post a ‘Go In Store’ experience. The Cotswold Company has five bricks and mortar stores: Norwich, Stow-on-the-Wold, Chelmsford, Godalming and Harrogate (all five ran Go In Store).
This digital pivot from The Cotswold Company is important to note on the backdrop of an ever-changing high street, with independent online brands levelling the playing field.
Ralph Tucker, The Cotswold Company CEO, said “Since the start of the pandemic, it has been our mission to blend the offline and online experience to ensure customers remain connected and can effectively shop remotely.
“I am excited to today announce that this virtual ‘Go In Store’ experience will remain post-pandemic, due to both its popularity and the flexibility it offers our customers.
“The advantage here is that if customers want to see a table extended by the member of staff or two colourways side-by-side, staff can easily do this on the video call.
“These video calls are very different to a basic live chat that many other retailers offer, the ‘Go In Store’ function is something we see the rest of the industry following suit with.”
Here’s what their customers had to say about Go In Store:
“We have placed quite a few orders recently which have been seamless, we all prefer visiting a shop to touch something tangible however this offers a great alternative in this current climate. All the staff thus far have been very good. This system works.”
“The best thing to being in the showroom.”
“This is a brilliant interactive way of providing true customer service. I really like the video concept, it’s as if you are in a shop!”
“Amazing. So, so good. Well done Cotswold this was a first for me. Such a good idea to be able to see around the shop.”