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Popeye’s Supplements makes gains in online sales with customer service automation
 — October 20, 2020

Since it opened its first storefront in 1989, Popeye’s Supplements has helped Canadian consumers reach their health and fitness goals with its wide selection of targeted supplements, including multivitamins, collagen and mixed whey—but no spinach! The company boasts 140 locations across the country.

Popeye’s—like virtually every business out there—encountered new challenges in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. For one, they had to figure out how to keep their brick and mortar businesses running safely (stores remained open throughout lockdown because they sell essential goods), but it also had to adapt to take in an increasing number of online orders.

In Montreal, for instance, where Popeye’s 15-person team has been working between home and the office, the company has had to think on its feet for ways to provide the same degree of customer care online as it offers in store. A big part of the Popeye’s retail experience is speaking directly to highly knowledgeable and trained staff, who can help you find the ideal supplements for your health goals, so maintaining this level of attentiveness is a priority.

“We are a highly specialized product, so our consumer needs to be sold on our service and feel the value of what we bring to the table,” Philippe-Antoine Defoy, a franchise owner of Popeye’s in Quebec, explains.

“We have a lot of teams at the store level who interact with clients one-on-one, but as people began relying more on online shopping, we had to figure out how to replicate the in-store experience to ensure the same level of communication.”

‍‍Heyday replicates the in-store experience with online chat 

This is where Heyday comes in. Our chatbot allowed Popeye’s to augment its online customer service offering, providing round-the-clock communication and improving customer response rates. “The integration with Facebook messenger is also key,” Defoy adds. “Before, people would send us messages and they would often go unanswered. With the bot, we can now provide instant responses and also manage expectations in regards to when they can speak to a human agent.”

To give a clearer picture of the scale of Popeye’s customer service, the company receives over 60 customer requests per day through its various channels (Facebook, Panier Bleu, Google’s Business Messages). Heyday’s chat technology not only consolidates these incoming messages into a single inbox, it also handles a whopping 85% of the responses using FAQ and product automation.

Looking at Popeye’s extensive selection of supplements, it is unsurprising that most customer queries are about finding the right product.

Heyday’s AI-driven product search recommendation feature guides customers to the right product, taking into account their demographic and health goals. Overall, it has had a success rate of 60% in finding the right product for the customer, which has translated to over $500 in sales (in the first month of service alone!) without any human intervention. Another 20% of customer requests, related to FAQ, are automated by the chatbot, making things more manageable for the customer support team.

Just like an in-store sales associate, Popeye’s bot – P0P – triages customer needs to point them in the right direction. Experience the bot for yourself on Facebook.

Maintaining a strong online presence

Popeye’s was quick to recognize that it needed to adapt to the COVID-19 reality, as customers that would have once shopped in person were opting for the online experience. Prior to the pandemic, the supplements specialist had largely focused on its in-store operations, but as soon as customer behaviour shifted, it started to beef up its online offering, supplementing its website with more features and products. And though the company has reported a bounce-back in store traffic since mid-June, it still plans to maintain a strong online presence.

“As a business, we were forced to adapt and switch to the changing habits of the customer,” Defoy says. “Whether the customer decides (or is forced) to shop online, we need to be able to follow their journey and meet them where and when they want. If they want to take the time to chat with our experts and team, then we need to be available to meet that demand.”

Like many retail enterprises of its size, Popeye’s doesn’t have extensive technical resources, so Shopify’s ecommerce platform played an important role in its online journey. Shopify’s user-friendly backend and various plugin options—like Heyday’s chatbot—allowed the Popeye’s team to scale its business and online footprint in a cinch.


  • Popeye’s Supplements receives over 60 customer requests a day from 59 Facebook pages, Panier Bleu and Google’s Business Messages.  20% of these requests received by Popeye’s are now answered with our FAQ automation tool.
  • Heyday’s chatbot has a 60% success rate finding the right product for customers.
  • Popeye’s has saved at least 50% in customer service costs with Heyday – allowing its team more time to focus on high-value projects.

Ready to start writing your own AI chatbot success story? Start using Heyday today by downloading our app on the Shopify App Store, or book time to chat with an expert right here.

The concept of clienteling is nothing new, at least not in physical stores. The sole objective is to foster long-term relationships with frequent, usually high-paying customers.

Think of it as white-glove service, like a next-level personal shopper with the goal, of course, being continued sales. However, with a limited number of in-store associates, physical stores can only provide this service to so many customers at a time, especially as the customer journey starts online more often than not.

The luxury industry has always set the standard for clienteling in-store, and with the continued and future growth of the ecommerce luxury goods market, luxury fashion and beauty brands are already looking for ways to leverage new technologies to ramp up their clienteling services online. 

Enter conversational AI and chatbots.

With these technologies becoming more and more democratized online and retail settings, luxury brands can now offer usher a new era of digital clienteling. This new disruption in customer service (or customer experience) is a total game-changer for the likes of Dior, Chanel, Givenchy, Fendi, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, and co.

But before we dive any deeper into the impact of clienteling in the luxury retail space, let’s cover the basics. 

What is clienteling in retail? 

Clienteling is the process of engaging with and providing personalized service to shoppers. In today’s omnichannel retail environment, clienteling usually happens via conversational messaging platforms that unify customer data and conversations across all messaging channels. 

The result? Store associates have visibility on a shopper’s purchase history, shopping preferences, and previous interactions, and can proactively reach out via live chat or text message to let the customer know about restocks, new products, a promotion they may be interested in, or anything in between. 

“There’s tremendous value in personalized shopping, especially in the luxury market where both customer expectations and transaction value are high, and retention is critical.” explains Suzanne Tran, Retail Communications Strategist at Heyday. 

“Having a go-to sales associate or personal stylist not only keeps clients in the loop about upcoming promotions, product drops and restocks, but also helps them navigate specific needs and special interests in a way that casual shopping lacks — from wardrobe building to milestone shopping for family and friends.”

“The rapport built through clienteling makes shopping accessible, entertaining and convenient. Great customer service turns into a great customer experience which turns a first-time shopper into a life-long client.”

In fact, clienteling’s emphasis on the long-term customer experience has a tremendous impact on customer retention, with brands leveraging clienteling increasing retention rates by as much as 200%

At its core, the concept of clienteling is ultimately to create a fully personalized, one-to-one customer experience. But doing that for every customer you serve can be a challenge, especially with most shoppers beginning their journey online. With the advent of virtual clienteling technology, though, we’re likely to see the widespread adoption of clienteling across the retail sector. 

Clienteling for digitally-native luxury shoppers

Earlier this year, McKinsey & Company revealed that nearly 80% of luxury sales were “digitally influenced” and that high-end spending online is expected to more than triple to €74 billion ($87 billion USD) by 2025. How AI and chatbots will contribute to this growth with clienteling at scale remains to be seen, but the potential is vast.

This excitement about its potential is echoed by those working in the luxury industry, too. I was lucky enough to chat with Laurent Claquin, General Manager of Kering Group North America (Gucci, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, YSL) at a FrenchFounders event at one of his SoHo stores in New York City. In his talk, he stated that “although it accounts only for approximately 10% of Gucci’s current sales, digital is a key pillar of our future: 90% of the decision-making and product discovery is done online before the customer even shows up to the store.”

One might reasonably expect multi-billion dollar luxury brands to have already nailed the online experience, to have already seamlessly integrated white-glove service into their offerings, but that’s not the case. At least not yet.

Digital is a key pillar of our future: 90% of the decision-making and product discovery is done online before the customer even shows up to the store.

Luxury brands have been surprisingly slow to embrace ecommerce and its potential, and perhaps with good reason. They’ve been wary of experimenting with offering online because they were worried it would affect brand perception and customer experience. Until now, they’ve had no way of effectively scaling their in-store experience digitally while preserving their reputation.

Clienteling in the age of conversational commerce 

With AI and chatbots now being able to augment sales and customer services teams, the most forward-thinking brands are starting to embrace them. For example, one of our clients, LVMH, whose brands include Louis Vuitton, Dior, Fendi, Make Up For Ever and Sephora, is proactively seizing opportunities to use technology to connect with customers through 1:1 conversations and recreate that luxurious, personalized, VIP service.

AI-powered clienteling presents luxury brands with an enormous array of opportunities. But where to focus? We’ve identified five key areas that we believe should form the foundation of an ecommerce white-glove service. 

1. Leverage the power of storyselling

If you walk into any luxury store on the high street, you’ll be greeted by a sales associate who can tell you just about everything about the company, from its history, its products, and ultimately, personalized recommendations just for you. They’ll be able to tell you when the company was founded, the different seasons and lines, how the design process works, what materials are used, and more. More than just selling you a brand, they’re selling you a story.

By connecting stories to shopping experiences in context, sales teams are able to build stronger connections between the brand and its customers.

More often than not, luxury purchases are emotionally-driven, and nothing drives emotion quite like a story. By connecting stories to shopping experiences in context, sales teams are able to build stronger connections between the brand and its customers.

As customers increasingly prefer to contact businesses via messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, chatbots are becoming the new extension of the brand online. 1:1 conversations are a tremendous opportunity to leverage storytelling to engage customers and nurture them over time.

2. Online to offline, seamlessly

Today’s customer has one foot in the digital world and one foot in the physical world. The best brands combine the two worlds to create a unique, omnichannel, VIP shopping experience. Luxury brands are no different. They can leverage the convenience of online shopping to pre-qualify leads and assist them through the product discovery phase, towards a sale.

Chatbots can be the glue to a rock-solid omnichannel strategy and bridge the gap between your physical and digital stores. As prospective customers visit your site, you can welcome them with an instant message and assist them as they research products. These virtual AI-powered advisors can act as extensions of your in-store team, capture leads, and escalate the most promising ones to your human sales associates. This hybrid approach is introducing a new era of clienteling that is both human and AI-powered and that covers the full spectrum of customer interactions across the online-offline journey.

Virtual AI-powered advisors can act as extensions of your in-store team, capture leads, and escalate the most promising ones to your human sales associates.

They can also be very handy when it comes to helping people find the nearest store, book an appointment with an in-store advisor (e.g. Sephora) or buy online and pick up in store.

Beyond chatbots, these tactics are invaluable for modern day retailers. For example, British luxury brand Holland Cooper (reported annual revenue of £10 million (13.2 million USD)) has leveraged a “click-and-collect” strategy to funnel traffic to their store, which accounted for 60% of sales through their Shopify Plus website.

3. On-demand VIP services

Customer expectations are higher than ever, and that rings even truer for luxury brands. It’s time for brands to act less like advertisers, and more like personal assistants. This means being smart and strategic about how they combine AI chatbots, store associates, live chat, and clienteling.

Assistive selling is the best way to maximize each customer’s lifetime value and average basket size. Get it right, and you’ll reap the rewards of being able to offer a helping hand everywhere and anywhere.

It’s time for retail brands to act less like advertisers, and more like personal assistants. This means being smart and strategic about how they combine AI chatbots, store associates, live chat, and clienteling.

For example, Make Up For Ever uses a Messenger chatbot powered by Heyday to help shoppers find the right concealer and foundation for their skin tone, but shoppers can always speak to a human make up artist if they wish. The idea is not only to guide customers toward the right solution for their need but also design a customer service channel that feels tailored and readily accessible on demand.

Another example is Net-a-Porter and Mr. Porter, who offer premium assistance in selected cities to so-called EIPs (Extremely Important People, aka top customers who spend a lot). Assistance comes in the form of at-home shopping consultations, and a “you try, we wait” delivery service.

4. Emphasize exclusivity and scarcity

Exclusive or hidden content can help to pique shoppers’ curiosity and drive sales of higher priced goods. At London Fashion Week in 2016, Burberry employed a Messenger chatbot to complement its show, as it allowed users to learn more about the collection and dive into a stylized maze game in which users could uncover hidden pieces.

Emphasizing exclusivity and scarcity is at the heart of luxury shopping. In a digital-first world, brands must recreate that sense of urgency and exclusivity online by injecting emotion into the experience. 

L’Occitane also created a sense of scarcity and exclusivity in 2017, driving social sales by offering a Mother’s Day gift which could only be purchased through Facebook.

Emphasizing exclusivity and scarcity is at the heart of luxury shopping. In a digital-first world, brands must recreate that sense of urgency and exclusivity online by injecting emotion into the experience. Limited editions, real-time stock availability notifications, storytelling, and handpicked recommendations are some of the key factors which set luxury shopping apart from the more mundane, commodity shopping.

5. Create culturally-relevant experiences

Global brands now feel the pressure to have a local approach to be culturally relevant. “Glocalization” as we like to call it needs to be a core pillar of any global brand’s conversational AI strategy, especially as natural language becomes the premier consumer interface.

For example, French in France is different from French in Canada. But these differences go beyond just greeting shoppers in their native language. At Heyday, we’re constantly developing better natural language processing modules that take those cultural specificities into account. We know that psychographics — interests, passions, morals etc. — are often driven by demographics, meaning brands must adjust their tone for different markets in order to feel more personable and relevant to their customers.

Conversational AI: part automation, part personal shopper

The efficiency of ecommerce has a lot of upsides, but the experience still all too often feels imperfect and impersonal. With new technologies such as virtual customer assistants and conversational AI promising to change commerce forever, luxury brands are presented with a new era of opportunities.

Their challenge now is to strike the right balance between convenience and experience, between automation and the human touch, and between the physical and digital store experience.

At the end of the day, luxury is all in the details. It’s not just the products, but the experience and feelings surrounding them. AI technology is perfectly placed to complement luxury brands, but we must learn to employ it at the right time for the customer’s sake and to use it in a way that augments human teams, not replaces them.

By putting tech at the service of their customers, luxury brands may finally be able to deliver the same level of clienteling and white-glove service online as they do in-store. The end goal? To enable personalization at scale across all channels to usher in a new era of bespoke customer experiences.

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