Guest Blogger Sal Macaluso asks: Should a Full Service Specialty Boutique Have a Website?

thumbnail-sal2There is no question that the Internet is a place where you can find great prices if you are willing to give up personalized customer service. So why does a Full Service Specialty Boutique need a website?

Many would argue that having a website works against the whole concept of “Full Service.” Why is that? Is it the Internet or is it the attitude of most retailers that are on the Internet that has perpetuated this perception?

Why can’t a website be used to enhance customer service rather then work against it?
Let me give you an example; my family and I enjoyed a wonderful mini-vacation in Savannah, GA this summer. My wife, Carrie, always makes sure to visit “Jezebel,” a boutique on Riverwalk. When we walked into the shop we were greeted like old friends, even though it had been over a year since we last visited. As usual Carrie purchased a fabulous skirt from some obscure designer that I had never heard of. As I was leaving the store I asked the owner if she had a website. “Oh no,” she said, as if having a website for her type of boutique would be ridiculous. She said that they are constantly getting in new merchandise and it turns very quickly. “It would be impossible for us to keep a website updated.”

As I left the store I thought, “What a shame. My wife loves this boutique, yet she can only purchase from this store when we come to visit.

How might a store like this use a website and the power of the Internet to extend their incredible customer service on their website?
Is it really “impossible” to keep a website updated with new merchandise? Of course it’s not! It is simply a matter of integrating a procedure into your normal day to day routine. 

A box arrives, you unpack it, remove the plastic bag, attach the proper hanger, perhaps a quick steaming, then you put it on a rack for later integration into your inventory. Decisions are made; should this go on a mannequin? Didn’t I unpack a top yesterday that will go with this skirt? Oh my goodness, Mary Smith would love this jacket, let’s put it aside and give her a call!

If Jezebel had a website, another decision would be considered. “Should we put a picture of this on our website?” 
If the answer is “Yes,” a picture is quickly snapped with a digital camera. At some point in the day, or even the next day, the pictures are downloaded to a computer and uploaded to the website.

Now let’s face reality; some of those items may be sold by the time the pictures can be uploaded to the website.  So what! When you are uploading the pictures simply don’t upload the ones that have sold already! Think of it; why would you not upload the pictures of 50 items that didn’t get sold just because there are five pictures on the camera of items that did get sold? Wouldn’t that be silly?!

So how does this tie into enhanced customer service? 
Simple; I know Carrie would LOVE to receive an email from Jezebel whenever they have updated their website with new images. I can assure you that this is an e-mail she would NOT delete! I would even go so far as to say that it would result in a guaranteed sale!

This is just one example of how someone with a “Full Service” mentality can use a website and the Internet to enhance customer service and increase sales! 
Let me leave you with this thought. If you are the owner of a Full Service Specialty Boutique, you will implement your ‘Full Service” attitude into how you use your website.

Did you miss Sal’s presentation at Market?
Don’t worry. You can now watch it and see what you missed. Click here to view the presentation.

Sal Macaluso is the creator of the program-a complete website and Internet marketing tool designed exclusively for Full Service Specialty Boutiques.

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