Debenhams boosts in-store visits with online appointments

Debenhams has increased the number of customers booking personal shopping appointments by 25%.

By partnering with online booking software company, BookingBug, Debenhams is encouraging more customers to visit the retailer in store.

The online software allows customers to book personal shopper appointments in 88 of its stores across the country. Prior to rolling out the online service, Debenhams was concerned its 20-year-old personal shopper service was struggling to attract new customers.

Donna Hudson, senior marketing co-ordinator at Debenhams, said: "While the customers who regularly used our personal shopping service knew it was a great experience, the booking system didn’t reflect that. We needed a premium system to give customers a premium service."

Debenhams did have an online booking process before rolling out Booking Bug's software, but the service was managed through legacy infrastructure and was not designed for mobile. The old software was not able to reveal data on customers booking an appointment, not to mention zero real-time visibility or an easy amendment process.

Hudson added: "Because it was so difficult to track appointment volumes and attribute revenue to individual bookings, we didn’t have the data we needed to make a credible business case for investing in and expanding the service, although we instinctively knew it was enormously valuable."

The new online software is now a real-time service, and customers can subscribe to SMS and email reminders, which increase appointment attendance rates. Head office can also use the data to ensure enough staff are on hand to manage personal shopping appointments during peak periods.

“More personal shopping appointments means more customers than ever are receiving the ultimate, VIP treatment with Debenhams. This grows their loyalty and helps them become advocates for the unique, differentiated and exclusive experience we work hard to offer," explained Hudson. "After 12 months live we haven’t experienced a second of downtime and feedback from staff and customers has been excellent. We also now know that when the time comes to consider offering additional services, such as bra fittings or beauty sessions, we have a robust platform and audience to power it. Before BookingBug we couldn’t have been sure we’d see real results or have been able to measure the impact."

Glenn Shoosmith, CEO of BookingBug, added: "The Debenhams Personal Shopper service is a great example of how brands can build closer connections with their customers. Building real loyalty still happens most effectively offline. This is where BookingBug comes in. We bridge the gap between online and off, increasing the important interactions with the highest value customers. "