Personal shopping surge at Debenhams as new tech makes an impact

As personal shopping takes on a greater role in modern stores both through apps and face-to-face engagement, and retailers seek new ways to monetise technology, UK and international department stores chain Debenhams said it has boosted its personal shopping appointments “significantly” since adding new tech to its offer last year.


New tech has made a major impact on the Debenhams personal shopping offer


The company said it has seen a 25% uplift in appointments in just 12 months, despite having previously offered personal shopping for over 20 years. And the amount of online bookings have doubled.

Debenhams told Fashion Network that personal shopping has long been key for engaging with its highest value customers but that it had been struggling against “extremely low” awareness and slow new user growth with the experience surrounding booking seen as holding it back.

Its new omnichannel appointment system allows customers to book personal shopper sessions and this has now been rolled out to 88 key locations among its 240 stores.

The new system, which was made by tech specialist BookingBug, replaces a legacy infrastructure dating back to the very early days of the store’s online efforts. As a result, it was not designed for the current mobile-focused shopping audience and it did not integrate smoothly with the look and feel of the Debenhams website. It also had no capacity to reveal actionable data on how customers used the service and no ability to react in real time if appointments needed to be amended.

Donna Hudson, senior marketing co-ordinator at the retailer said that the booking system did not enhance the experience for the customers who regularly use its personal shopping service and that the company was aware that it need a premium system “to give customers a premium service”.

She added that the company could also consider using the system for additional appointment-based services such as bra fittings and beauty sessions.

BookingBug is one of the world’s fastest growing tech companies and its systems are also used by John Lewis and Babies R Us.

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