Liberty, seen by many as the epitome of Christmas, is tackling this year’s peak by bringing its in-store agents online and onto social media to tap into what is undoubtedly an online peak season.
With its stores shut until 3 December and severe travel restrictions stymieing tourist footfall, the company is attempting to capture the physical delight of the in-store experience by bringing it over to their digital channels:
“One of the things we’ve done online for the first time this year is made our in-store agents available to customers online,” says Eric Fergusson, director of ecommerce at Liberty, speaking in a RetailX webinar, RetailX & Guests with Liberty London.
Since enabling this functionality, which allows browsers on the website to converse with, or ask product-related questions to in-store staff, Liberty says it has been incredibly popular. “We realised we have a large cohort of customers who love having conversations with our fantastic staff and now they can have them digitally,” says Fergusson.
Liberty has also seen a strong growth over the past three to four years, which has now accelerated to a three-fold this year. This is partly due to Christmas demand starting earlier than ever, with consumers buying baubles and home decorations from September.
However, it is uncertain whether or not this spurt will continue: with Covid-19 causing uncertainty around Christmas plans, retailers may see fewer consumers buying gifts.
“I’ve got a hunch that there are a proportion of people out there who might be holding on for 3rd December when stores will reopen because they love shopping, and they love the weekends out with the carols and the music and mulled wine and they’re holding on for that moment,” Fergusson adds.
He also says the retailer expects to see continued online growth in the new year, as the number of people working from home increases:
“People have shopped online, found it convenient and people are going to be spending more time working from home than they did last year and those I think are the two norms that have persisted,” Fergusson concludes.