Clothing retailer Louis Boston has found that the personal touch works on the web. Its website, LouisBoston.com, has increased profits by building real, not virtual, client/consultant relationships. "I wanted our website to be a new experience - a new medium," explains Debra Greenberg, president of Louis Boston. "I didn't want to create a typical e-commerce site and revisit an old medium - the catalogue."

Personal touch pays off
The redesigned LouisBoston.com is moving a lot of merchandise over the web. "One of Louis Boston's largest customers is someone who has contacted us over the web," adds Greenberg. "He sent an online inquiry to a consultant, received the attention and service he wanted, and has enjoyed an individual relationship with Louis ever since."

The personal relationship between the client and the wardrobe consultant is the key to good business at LouisBoston.com. The client is encouraged to choose from a list of potential consultants, find a real person who can address their needs, and interact with this person as frequently or infrequently as necessary through e-mail, digital photographs, and video. Not only does this direct interaction build sales - it also eliminates typical e-commerce problems, such as mass returns and troublesome delivery.

Technologically speaking, the website is simple and uncluttered. "We
wanted to avoid a convoluted site based on 'virtual models' and treat clients more like people," explains Greenberg. "The best thing about our website is that we can listen to customers' needs and satisfy them." This modern take on "good old-fashioned service" is easily responsible for the growing number of regular customers on LouisBoston.com, and is proof that shopping on the web doesn't have to be impersonal to be profitable.