Revisiting: Virtual Sales via Facetime

This is an update to an article (Virtual Sales via Facetime)we originally posted March 27, 2020.


When you read the article below, realize that this was originally intended for retail stores struggling in the original stages of the pandemic shutdown.  As we are starting to round the corner on the business impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, lessons we have learned are still valuable lessons for future business practices.  We urge you to take the idea presented below, and now envision how this can still add significant value to your sales process.  We believe there are two key situations where this still applies:

  •   * customers who will continue to remain apprehensive of direct physical contact, such as touching merchandise on store shelves
  •   * customers who are not located in your immediate vicinity and who can only shop your selection online

If you have the ability to extend the shopping experience (described below) utilizing the familiarity of Facetime (and possibly other video chat services) we believe you extend you market availability.

Previously we have posted some ideas on how local businesses can survive through a significantly challenging time. This includes the post Local Business Survival in a Crisis and Sell Online Plus Creative Delivery. Now we want to talk about another creative practice we have learned about.

The Sales Challenge

For retail businesses, foot traffic is key. The ability to browse and compare items, to feel the fabric of clothes, to read the package, etc. is a key part of the retail shopping experience. As shoppers stay home as part of social distancing, the hands-on approach is not practical. We have worked with one store that has come up with a way to provide as much of this shopping experience as possible. The first step was to add an ecommerce shopping cart to their website to replace the in-store cashier. Initially they added about 25% of their product items which account for about 80% of their sales revenue.

Using their customer database, they then began to send out emails to their clientele, beginning with their top clients first, to let them know they were now available online. Web traffic immediately jumped. Comments back from their customers are that even thought they are staying home, they still want to feel like there is some aspect of normal in their lives.

The Facetime Solution

Then for the sales process. This was a happy discovery by an employee willing to provide exceptional customer service. After a customer had spend some time browsing the online store, they were undecided between two items. So they called the store for advice. This employee then took the sales process a step further and offered to use their mobile phones and the Facetime video chat feature to take the customer on a virtual sales trip, comparison shopping of the items. After an initial selection, the customer asked for a tour of a few other items and eventually bought 3 products.

To be successful with this Facetime virtual sales approach, you need to have staff who are personable, friendly, knowledgeable, and, of course, willing to put in the effort. This sales method has caught on. The business has offered to cover the mobile phone bills of their staff and the unique experience has proven to be a success.