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How Brands Like Volvo Canada And Harry Rosen Are Transforming Retail Experiences

How Brands Like Volvo Canada And Harry Rosen Are Transforming Retail Experiences

How Brands Like Volvo Canada And Harry Rosen Are Transforming Retail Experiences

On any given day, Trinh Tham can look out the window and see at least five delivery trucks circling her neighborhood. She knows that, more than likely, one of them will be bringing a recently-ordered purchase to her door. As a result, she has found herself reevaluating her role and responsibility as a consumer.

As the chief marketing officer for luxury menswear retailer Harry Rosen by day, for instance, Tham works for a brand that is known for providing suits and other clothing made out of the finest materials. That’s in stark contrast to all the plastic, paper and other wrapping that gets discarded once an item is delivered.

“It’s really made me think about my choices when I go and shop at checkout,” Tham said during Salesforce’s recent Path To Growth virtual event about the future of retail. “Do I really need all that packaging?”

Tham is certainly not alone in booming more conscious about the relationship between shopping and sustainability. It’s also just one of the many changes in buyer habits since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that won’t be going away.

For Matt Girgis, managing director at Volvo Canada, the increased use of digital channels has converted him into grocery shopping online. “There are also all these mom and pop shops that used to have in-store only coupons. Now I can connect with them online and receive orders from them.”

Salesforce chief digital evangelist Brian Solis said he’s been exploring new brands and options he didn’t know existed prior to 2020 as well. He’s also been paying more attention to in-store designs — and appreciating the people working within those spaces.

“I’m really trying to be nice to the staff, because I’m sure they have a lot of choices of where they could work these days,” he pointed out.

Changing Consumer Expectations

In a similar way, consumers face no shortage of choices in which retail brands they’ll turn to for everything from day-to-day essentials to luxury clothing or a car.

Solis cited data from Salesforce that 61% of customers say they’re going to spend more time online after the pandemic. That means it’s incumbent upon retailers to dedicate time to tracking the trends that are important to customers , and to conduct pilot projects to see what new digital technologies could help meet their expectations.

One thing is certain: we are now in a truly omnichannel world that will continue to take place in-store, but also online. These experiences will be a blend of the two, Solis said.

“Customers aren’t going to wake up tomorrow and say, ‘ Today I’m going to be digital. Tomorrow I might be more analog,” he said.

Take Harry Rosen as an example: Tham said the 68-year-old retailer has been hard at work revamping its customer journey map to better understand when a shopper will show up at one of its physical locations versus when they’ll visit its website. Not surprisingly, she described this journey as a zig-zag, where buyers might start their research online, come to a store to look at clothes or shoes up close, and then go back online to comparison-shop.

Harry Rosen has concluded that a customer who moves across in-store and online tends to be worth 30 per cent more in terms of purchasing value. That makes it imperative for every channel to be optimized to deliver an exceptional experience.

“Sometimes (purchase) decisions take a little longer,” she said. “We want to allow them the time, and to make the decision of where they want to be and then meet them there.”

Girgis has noticed a similar trend of blended online and offline shopping in the automotive sector. While they may browse around for possible makes and models, he said 92 per cent of Canadians still want to buy a car in person at a dealership.

As a result, Volvo has been very conscious about its own customer journey map, which includes not only the research and purchase phase but the ownership phase. For the latter, Volvo is offering a mobile app where car owners can book service, heat up their vehicle remotely, or talk to a Volvo expert.

“We want to empower them to trust us and engage in a way that is convenient for them,” he said. “It all starts with trust, and you need to be able to offer them this trust no matter where they want to meet you.”

Loyalty Reimagined

Trust plays a huge role in fostering customer loyalty to a retailer too. Girgis said this happens when customers feel a brand recognizes them by their profile, and anticipates their needs before they reach out. None of this is possible, however, without the right tools to manage the data. He pointed to Salesforce in particular as a partner in helping Volvo in this area.

“Having a robust CRM strategy is critical to engage in those personal communications so customers really feel the trust,” he said.

For many retailers, the word “loyalty” conjures up the concept of points programs, but Solis warned against using that strategy in a limited way.

“Loyalty is based on a relationship,” he said. “Sometimes I think we get caught up in the mechanisms of points or purchases and transactions. What we need to think about in terms of loyalty is the experience.”

Tham agreed. While Harry Rosen has a loyalty program called Sartoria where shoppers can earn points, the retailer recently issued a points extension because it recognized many customers haven’t been getting out to shop as much over the past year.

“We look at loyalty not just as a program but the engagement with our brand in totality,” she said. “We’ve also digitized the platform to make it more efficient internally, and to make sure our members can get access to the information they need.”

Unifying the Customer Experience Across Platforms

Retail experiences are also evolving in that shoppers aren’t just navigating to platforms they own and operate directly, the panelists added. The number of touchpoints — from social media to SMS and beyond — are growing all the time.

This is why Tham said Harry Rosen has been exploring the power of a customer data platform (CDP) to make the work the entire company does more organized, strategic and purposeful. It can also simplify a brand’s tech stack, she added: when Harry Rosen revamped its website in 2020, for instance, she said the company introduced at least a dozen digital tools that it needed to manage.

“Having a CDP unifies all those disparate data sources. It aggregates them into one place and allows for a single view of our customer, which is so important,” she said.

Volvo Canada is aiming for the same kind of streamlined approach, Girgis said. Today, car buyers often have to take many steps before they purchase a vehicle. This includes not only selecting their car but making a deposit, applying for credit and signing documents.

“We want to get as much (of those steps) into the app as they can,” he said. “You also have to set up the organization so that everyone is working cross-functionally towards goals with customer KPIs attached to them.”

Solis said brands like Harry Rosen and Volvo Canada are demonstrating the right moves to use data to turn insights into engagements that will define best-in-class retailing. There is a similar green field opportunity for many other brands.

“The pandemic was a control-alt-delete moment for everybody,” he said. “We have a say in how we come out of this in terms of the role we want to play in the market. We can become the case studies that everyone learns from.”

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