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The future of online shopping?

As online fashion sales increase many etailers are taking steps to make their sites as user friendly as possible, Ruth Faulkner tried out the latest initiative from Baukjen.

Last week I tried out the new estylist service being offered by premium womenswear etailer Baukjen.

Based on the personal shopping concept, the premise of the estylist is relatively simple, albeit conducted via a web cam on a system similar to Skype.

Before your appointment you are sent a questionnaire about your physical appearance - dress size, hair colour, skin tone and what sort of clothes you normally wear as well as what you hope to get from the appointment.

You then receive an email with their appointment time and a link through which the customer is connected to the estylist.

I was staggered to learn that this is the first service of its kind, but the impressive thing about this service is not the concept itself, but rather the estylist. I’m not sure quite what I expected but it isn’t a computer generated character pointing you to different products on the website. Nor is it a sales person simply trying to ensure you buy as much from the range as possible.

My estylist, Rachel, talked me through pieces from the Baukjen collection, but also gave me general styling tips and advice about what to wear and how to adapt current trends to suit my personal style.Rachel guided me around the website to look at different options and colours. There was no obligation to buy after the session, although she did offer to follow up on email if I had any further questions.

Even adjusting to the unusual experience of speaking to someone on a webcam, the whole process is far less intimidating than walking into the personal shopping suites of high end department stores.

I didn’t end up buying anything at the time but I have now got my eye on a particular dress. Having expected a hard sales pitch, I came away feeling inspired to return and purchase without pressure.

I am surprised more fashion etailers are not making use of a service like this. So many sites are making great strides with the editorial content in order to increase customer interaction and dwell time - but for real customer service, this must be the next logical step.

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