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Beauty Retail Teams Are Becoming Virtual Consultants

Coronavirus-induced store closures have brands, including Deciem and Kiehl’s, bringing one-on-one digital consultations to shoppers.

Beauty brands are hatching a plan to bring retail teams’ expertise into the homes of their consumers.

Deciem and Kiehl’s are among the businesses gearing up to launch virtual consultations. The purpose is twofold: Keep retail employees employed, and help customers find the right products. 

Deciem, for example, is launching their virtual consultation services on April 13 across all of their brands. Utilizing a software called Hero, the brand’s retail team plans to speak directly with prospective customers about skin concerns and product usage. Customers are given the option to either video chat for their consultation or simply use a chat feature to text their consultant.

“We’re definitely wanting the consumer engagement, but we have 330 retail staff, so we wanted to see how we could definitely keep them on payroll,” said Nicola Kilner, ceo of Deciem. “How do we adapt their role so it still can exist during these times?”

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Kilner, however, has had the idea of connecting customers to experts directly before. Previous iterations of the consultation idea included putting hotlines in stores for customers to call the brand’s lab. “Questions we get [about products] have gone from 900 to about 2,600 in the past week, so our customers want the information now more than ever,” Kilner said.

Similarly, Kiehl’s is upping the ante on reaching out to their clients. They launched the Healthy Skin Hub in January, an in-store service with medical-grade equipment to test skin’s moisture levels and skin barrier strength. Now, they have brought the expertise to their chat service online.

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Kim Robertson, vice president of Education at Kiehl’s, has begun training the brand’s skin-care experts for virtual consultations over chat. “Our customers are so used to the high-touch, in-person engagement, if you’re not going to be able to see someone’s skin up close, I wanted our trainers first to have this experience.”

Robertson said the chats have been well-received by both customers and trainers alike. “It’s preliminary, we only have a couple of weeks under our belt, but we’re seeing great conversion rates about 10 basis points higher on chat representative conversion.”

Kiehl’s is now widening the team of chat representatives. In terms of further initiatives to adapt to the landscape, Roberton remains optimistic. “Sometimes, out of disaster, we are forced to be more creative and more inventive, to push the envelope.”

Read more from WWD: 

5 Beauty Brands Launching Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

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