Lamps Plus Texting Function Allows Associates To Be Customers’ ‘Eyes’ In The Store

Anyone who has spent hours picking out home furnishings knows that little details matter before making a final decision. But what if you wanted to know something really specific — such as the color of the plug on a lamp you’re thinking of buying — but you didn’t have time to visit the store to check for yourself? Lamps Plus has debuted a text-to-store functionality that connects shoppers with in-store associates, allowing them to act as the customer’s eyes within the store.

The program, which Lamps Plus began testing in December 2018 and has since expanded to its 37 stores, allows customers to send questions from their phones’ SMS app without requiring an additional app. The store manager or assistant store manager carries a dedicated iPhone during store hours to respond to customers’ texts. Customers can tap the “Check Store Availability” option within each mobile product page, leading to a page where a “Text Store For Availability” prompt initiates an SMS message about the product. Text numbers also are located on store pages, in customer marketing emails and inside printed catalogs.

Managers or associates receiving texts can “check if a particular product is in-stock at the store, and also answer questions that are more specific than someone at a call center could,” said Dalin Brinkman, Senior Manager for Site Strategy at Lamps Plus. “They can answer those very specific questions, such as what color the plug is — and they can take a picture of it to send back to the shopper via text.”


Since rolling out the functionality, Lamps Plus has seen 3X as many texts as phone calls to stores. The most frequent text topics are about product availability, sizes, colors and other design features. Additionally, customers can send their own photos to ask about adding products to their home’s interior design, and they can reserve products through text for in-store pickup.

Text Function Fosters Phone Sales Growth

Typical text message conversations last for several exchanges before ending, often with a customer either making a product reservation or transitioning to a phone call for purchase. Lamps Plus only accepts purchases via phone call — credit card information is not accepted over SMS due to security concerns with the platform.

“We also see customers not only getting product answers but developing an initial sales relationship with the store associate that can carry into the store visit,” said Terre Wellington, SVP of Store Operations, Internet and Human Resources at Lamps Plus, in a statement.

The ability to communicate directly with store associates via text is helping Lamps Plus customers through the research phases of high consideration items. “With store associates having ongoing text conversations with customers that include images and video, the associates essentially become ‘virtual shopping assistants’ that handle all the questions and concerns the customer may have as if they were in the store,” said Brinkman in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “As a result, more of the sales are being completed with the store associate over the phone without the customer actually going to the store.

“Our employees are enjoying the opportunity to engage and build sales relationships with customers through a new channel,” Brinkman added. “They note that customers ask questions based on research, so they are aware of where customers are in the decision-making process.”

For customers, the text functionality fits in with their busy lifestyles. “We have received a lot of feedback from customers stating that text messaging allows them to multitask better,” said Brinkman. “Since texting conversations don’t require immediate action like an in-person conversation, customers can ask a question and then return to the conversation later. They can send a text while on a break at work and then continue working with the associate after their work day is done. Customers appreciate the flexibility of responding to conversations whenever it is convenient for them.”

The text-to-store feature was recognized at this year’s eTail Best-in-Class awards, which named Lamps Plus “Best Omni-Channel Retailer.”

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