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Lanidor gets personal with a virtual consultation serviceCaroline McCarthy, owner of Lanidor in Galway, will continue to offer video consultations after the boutique reopens. Picture: Andrew Downes

A boutique owner is reaching out to customers all over the country by providing a one-to-one shopping experience through an innovative online service.

Caroline McCarthy runs Lanidor on Eyre Street in Galway and has owned the franchise for the Portuguese womenswear brand in the Republic and the North since 2017.

Forced to close her boutique in mid-March due to Covid-19 restrictions, McCarthy has instead turned her attention to her website

In addition to new e-commerce functionality, which allows customers to buy clothing and accessories on the site for the first time since its launch three years ago, McCarthy is also offering a one-to-one video consultation service.

“I prefer selling in the shop itself, because people can actually see and touch the products and you can talk to them in person, but because of the situation we find ourselves in, people still want to shop and online is the only way they can do that right now,” she said.

Visitors to can call McCarthy to arrange a remote consultation over FaceTime, WhatsApp video, Zoom or Skype. So far, 14 people have availed of the service.

“When we closed the shop on March 16, we weren’t sure when we would reopen again and I started thinking about how we could still offer a personal service,” she said.

“A virtual shopping trip seemed like a great way to engage with people on a one-to-one basis when they can’t come to the boutique.

“I can take them through every detail of each item of clothing they’re interested in. I plan to continue with it after the boutique reopens. It’s a great way to reach online customers in other parts of the country.”

McCarthy’s Galway boutique is one of about 100 Lanidor stores worldwide. She came across the brand four years ago while on holiday in the town of Portimão in the Algarve.

“Our customers tend to be women aged 30 and up. Lanidor is primarily dressy casual with some occasion wear. It’s slightly bohemian. We mainly have casual clothing, smart office outfits and weekend and leisure wear.”

McCarthy plans to reopen her Eyre Street boutique on June 8 after the Covid-19 lockdown measures have been eased.

“We have 960 square feet of floor space, so we have enough room to comply with regulations on handwashing and sanitising,” McCarthy, who employs two people at the shop, said.

“We’ll have a little station at the entrance with sanitisers and hand wipes and we’ll offer customers face masks. We’ll sanitise changing rooms after each customer, and staff will be instructed to maintain the strictest hand hygiene.

“If we take the right steps, I think there’s really no reason why we can’t resume trading again,” she said.