So let’s say you follow your favorite local boutique on Instagram. They post some new inventory that you must have now so you comment and ask if they have your size and if they’ll hold one for you. But as anyone who runs an Instagram account can tell you, it’s a horrible way to communicate beyond photos and your comment goes unnoticed. Meanwhile, the boutique owner has gone on to post on other social channels and, you know, run their business so they ignore you on accident because everything is disjointed all over the place. The store closes before you even get out of work so by the time the weekend rolls around and you get into the actual shop to make a purchase… you guessed it, they’re sold out of your size.
It’s a lose-lose. You want to buy something, the shop owner definitely wants to sell you something and yet everybody walks away empty-handed. You want to support local businesses, the shop owner definitely wants to hold their own against online e-commerce giants and yet the problem of connecting shoppers with shop owners persists.
House Account, the Charlotte-based boutique shopping app utilized by 450 boutiques and 50,000 shoppers nationwide, has a solution.
The concept is pretty simple and their execution thus far pretty flawless: create a centralized hub where shoppers and stores owners can view and post inventory, ask and answer questions, and purchase and process sales.
House Account was created by longtime friends and Charlotte business owners Laura Vinroot Poole (owner of fashion boutiques Capitol, Poole Shop and Tabor) and Travis Parons (owner of software development company Castle) whose individual professional endeavors combined to create the ultimate tech-savvy shopping app.
With 2.5 years under their belt, House Account has built a loyal national user base and major press coverage (in the likes of Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle and Wall Street Journal). I caught up with VP of Marketing Amanda Weisiger to see what’s next for the on-demand personal shopper in the palm of your hand.
As much as House Account improves the shopping experience for customers who can use it to browse inventory, chat with sales clerks and even make in-app purchases before someone snatches up the item they want, the real strategic advantage is for boutique owners who gain unprecedented access to their customers’ buying habits, preferences and purchase histories.
And that’s a value proposition that spurred the rollout of an end-to-end House Account-powered customer relationship management (CRM) system.
“Our goal would be to replace Constant Contact or Mailchimp or whatever system store owners are using to interact with their customers,” said Weisiger one afternoon on the front porch at Tabor, Poole’s latest endeavor and first mens-only store.
To do that they’re layering marketing calendar automation, analytics, branded landing pages and customer email marketing functions atop the existing platform that already allows social media integration and in-app purchasing. Under a subscription model service, stores pay $100/month for the system.
These functions combined with rich customer profiles for each shopper are what Weisiger says will help store owners personalize the shopping experience, improve customer service, ensure brand loyalty and ultimately increase sales.
More than 50 boutiques in Charlotte are already using House Account but Weisiger wants a stronger presence here at home. “We’re getting a lot of coverage in the national press, but it’s important that people know us here,” said the Charlotte native who just recently moved back home after several years in New York City.
Her take on the new Charlotte since she’s been gone? “I’m so happy to be home.”
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