Parachute, the direct-to-consumer bedding and home brand, is bringing its in-store experience online.
In particular, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has prompted the brand to ramp up a one-on-one virtual styling service, where consumers can work with an “in-house expert consultant” to receive recommendations and home styling advice over video chat—free of charge.
Ariel Kaye, Parachute’s chief executive, said the program initially launched in the fall of 2019. But with the pandemic forcing store doors to close, the brand fast-tracked a more widespread debut.
“We really wanted to put the word out there and let people know that we are offering this service for free for our customers,” she told Adweek. The company also on-boarded additional stylists and integrated more of the team to work on this particular program.
The virtual styling sessions start with an email question and answer form that the customer fills out to give the stylist (sometimes, Kaye herself fills the role) a better picture of their taste. Then, there’s the video chat, followed by an email with final recommendations.
Though ecommerce may be heralded as the future of retail, brick-and-mortar still plays an important role, particularly in connecting with customers. That’s perhaps proved all the more with even digitally native brands such as Parachute embracing physical retail. (Normally, Parachute operates nine brick-and-mortar stores.)
But as the coronavirus has mandated store closures for what’s approaching two months—and for some locations, with an end not yet in sight—retail businesses have had to pivot to find new ways to create that in-person connection with a consumer.
Now that this must be done exclusively online, the brand is leaning on its social channels for a more mass connection, and the virtual styling program for a more personal one.
“People are looking for connection all over the place and so we’re doing our part, whether it’s sharing different thoughtful tips for being productive when you’re working from home or creating great rituals at home,” Kaye said.
She said that in the current moment, however, Parachute saw an opening for consumers to desire their product more than ever. People, of course, are spending a lot more time at home, which means they may be reevaluating the design and decor choices they made in the past.
“Our homes are now being forced to work for us in different ways,” said Kaye. “We’re hearing from our customers that they now, more than ever, really want to feel comfortable at home, and we certainly want to be able to provide that experience.”
The brand is pleased with the results so far: Since February, Parachute’s online design service has been utilized by over 100 customers, with a 50% immediate conversion rate, as well as residual sales. And once store doors are open again, “We’re going to be expanding this to more personalized one-on-one appointments in store, and those could even be a follow up to an online chat session,” she said.