Tanger Outlets brings personal shopper services online

Discussion
Photo: Tanger Outlets
Jun 29, 2020
Tom Ryan

Tanger Factory Outlet Centers has launched a virtual shopping concierge service as part of its COVID-19 response. The move is seen as one of, if not, the first for the factory outlet channel.

Using the service involves three steps:

  1. Fill out your shopping form: Online shoppers at Tanger’s Virtual Shopper page can seek out a specific product by filling out a form listing a specific brand, item, size and color. They may also choose to browse by typing in the item they’re interested in, their preferred brand or brands and preferred size/color. Tanger writes, “This form will put you in touch with one of our shoppers whose main goal is to help you look your best.”
  2. Explore your favorite brands: The customer can scroll through offerings provided by the personal shopper and highlight items they want. The personal shopper then “shops in-store at Tanger Outlets on their behalf.” The personal shoppers can secure product across Tanger’s entire portfolio, not just the nearest outlet to them.
  3. Choose curbside pickup or have orders delivered: The online customer then chooses between curbside pickup or home delivery.

“Our Virtual Shopper program gives shoppers an insider VIP experience by connecting them with a personal Tanger associate that knows the hottest and best deals as well as new product launches offered in each store,” said Stephen Yalof, COO and president of Tanger Outlets, in a statement. “With the wellbeing of our customers being a top priority, we wanted to provide more options for those who may not be ready to visit us in-person, but still want to experience the fun and savings Tanger has to offer.”

Among others, the Independence Center in Independence, MO recently introduced a Virtual Shoppers program that appears to work similarly.

At the higher end, Gucci in early June launched a virtual shopping service allowing customers to communicate with personal shoppers via video call. Staff guide online shoppers through a 7,500 square-foot, made-up store inside a call center in Florence, Italy.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think Tanger Outlets’ virtual shopping concierge service will appeal to consumers both during the pandemic and after? Do you see a broad opportunity for virtual personal shoppers across channels and price points?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Some form of digital personal shopper will be a critical weapon in a retailer’s portfolio today and long after COVID-19 passes."
"This idea of “insider VIP treatment” is where the idea rolls off the rails. It is not possible to scale “VIP” treatment — especially as an extension of malls."
"Outlet stores are usually a “don’t know what I want, but when I see it I’ll buy it” experience ... Personal shoppers are a good idea, but that’s not the outlet experience."

Join the Discussion!

15 Comments on "Tanger Outlets brings personal shopper services online"


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David Naumann
BrainTrust

The Tanger Outlets’ virtual shopping service won’t appeal to all shoppers, but it will be welcomed by some. Consumers like options and this free concierge service is a way to make shoppers feel special. For those consumers that try and like this service, it will likely become a service that is appreciated post-COVID-19 concerns.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

The personal shopper in the day of the pandemic is relevant and thus a good idea. There will be lingering demand for the service after the pandemic is over but to a significantly lesser degree. Shopping the outlet malls is a form of entertainment in itself, it’s the personal bargain hunt and, therefore, shopping an outlet mall by proxy will appeal to a small group and it may not be worth it for Tanger or any other operator to continue the practice after CODVID-19.

Virtual personal shoppers are not a new concept and existed to a limited degree before COVID-19. Especially in certain price points (up-market) virtual shoppers will continue to serve those pressed for time or short on patience and long on money.

Suresh Chaganti
BrainTrust

It looks like there is too much friction in the process. Some Tanger loyalists and regulars may take it, but very likely it will not move the needle.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

This is a sensible initiative which helps consumers shop safely; it will appeal to those who are nervous to venture out or to those who need something very specific. Is it a replacement for shopping in person? Absolutely not. The whole outlet model works on high traffic, lots of browsing and impulse buying. An online, personal shopper experience cannot completely replicate those dynamics. However as part of a suite of solutions and options this service is sound and a great addition.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

I think a good deal — as always — depends on execution. But that said, I’m a big believer in the idea that some form of digital personal shopper will be a critical weapon in a retailer’s portfolio today and long after COVID-19 passes. I’m not so sure about how broad the opportunity is at the luxury level, but I recently heard of a designer who is using Zoom to “tour” clients’ closets to help them with selection, so possibly some hybrid model will surface in the future.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Going to the outlets has always centered on the thrill of the hunt, as in the Forrest Gump adage of never knowing what you are going to get when you go shopping. Considering that we have witnessed the great digital acceleration, the digital personal shopping services may appeal to a particular shopping segment while the majority of outlet customers will continue to enjoy the treasure hunt approach and adrenaline rush that comes along with finding a great deal.

Brian Numainville
BrainTrust

Whether or not this is a large magnitude service into the future, it is certainly relevant at the moment and, like online grocery shopping, will likely retain some percentage of shoppers post-pandemic.

Peter Charness
BrainTrust

Outlet stores are usually a “don’t know what I want, but when I see it I’ll buy it” experience for many. Personal shoppers are a good idea, but that’s not the outlet experience.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Agree!

Trinity Wiles
Guest

I like the idea of a virtual personal shopping app. However, I think this is most useful and will reach the height of popularity during the pandemic. Part of the outlet shopping experience is hunting for deals. This type of app would have more longevity in a luxury setting.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

Agree!

Chuck Ehredt
Guest

This is an important initiative for any retailer, as it represents a first step toward enabling the brand (or many brands) to exist in larger digital ecosystems where their target customers exist and shop. The virtual assistant may have a tactical or strategic impact during the COVID-19 situation, but long after this pandemic, any brand that wants its products to be discovered or searchable has got to expose that inventory via API so it can be found by more agnostic personal assistants that also become shopping assistants. I applaud the effort and hope the team can learn as quickly as possible in order to evolve the proposition in the most compelling way for customers.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

This idea of “insider VIP treatment” is where the idea rolls off the rails. It is not possible to scale “VIP” treatment — especially as an extension of malls.

That said, didn’t anyone notice the incredible irony here? Among stores who all have search capability, the key to success is hiring people to do the searches for customers?

Human IS the key to success despite decades of over-promising by tech enthusiasts.

It is concerning that they’re not very clear about why this is important — which sounds like “we’ll gather goods from different stores and deliver it curbside.” THAT’s a customer value.

Raj B. Shroff
BrainTrust

I agree with many of the comments here. This doesn’t seem aligned with the outlet mall shopping/shopper mindset. However, I applaud Tanger for trying something innovative that will very much be a part of retail’s future; especially when AI becomes more commonplace. If this doesn’t pan out the way they intended, ideally they are learning some valuable lessons that can be applied to strengthen other areas of their business in the future.

Brian Cluster
BrainTrust

It appears very relevant for now and for the next year and will build loyalty among consumers that are interested in shopping but want a new guided experience beyond the plain marketplace approach. This is the right time to experiment and learn from what will take as a good value and what does not work. A venture into new ways to serve digitally, turning any minor setback into learning and fuel innovation for the future. It is likely that the economics won’t work unless there is an annual commitment and this is provided for a core/heavy shopper.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Some form of digital personal shopper will be a critical weapon in a retailer’s portfolio today and long after COVID-19 passes."
"This idea of “insider VIP treatment” is where the idea rolls off the rails. It is not possible to scale “VIP” treatment — especially as an extension of malls."
"Outlet stores are usually a “don’t know what I want, but when I see it I’ll buy it” experience ... Personal shoppers are a good idea, but that’s not the outlet experience."

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