Retailer Aldo blazes a new path to customers with 1-to-1 communications.

Aldo Bensadoun followed in the footsteps of his cobbler grandfather and his shoe salesman father who later owned stores, when he opened his own shop in downtown Montreal in 1972 with a bold vision: to be the brand that cares.

In the years since, Bensadoun has built Aldo into an international footwear chain with 2,000+ stores in over 100 countries, continuing his family’s tradition of craftsmanship and style on a massive scale. Bensadoun’s founding values have continued as well — the company includes “love” among its formal corporate values.

Today, Salesforce is Aldo’s partner in spreading the same level of care and compassion Bensadoun offered to his early customers to 200 million customers and prospects worldwide. By pulling together previously siloed customer data, Aldo now provides a personalised experience that travels with customers whether they’re in the store, online, or calling customer service. The aim is to make it faster, easier, and more fun for customers to shop with Aldo.

The goal goes deeper than driving sales.

“For us to communicate and to translate our core values of love, integrity, and respect with the customer, we need to be able to do that across not just channels, but also all forms of communication, whether it's social media, online, or in a person-to-person relationship,” said Patrik Frisk, CEO of Aldo.


I think it's not about technology. It's about experiences.”

Lance Martel, Chief Information Officer and Vice President of IT

Demonstrating Aldo’s core values: respect, integrity, and love

“Love” is a word that seems far removed from the lingua franca of the 21st-century corporation. And yet Aldo isn’t alone in its heart-forward view of business relationships. One of Salesforce’s headlines is “We make your customers love you,” making the two companies natural allies.

Love comes through in everything Aldo does, from the relationship employees have with one another to the way they serve customers, Frisk said.

Amy Stern, Aldo’s Global Vice President of Human Resources, said love motivates the company’s leadership to give associates what they need to succeed. “One of the ways we demonstrate love here internally is sharing knowledge and … the tools that we provide to our associates,” Stern explained. “We can empower them with knowledge to be the best they can be, and to really serve our customers in a much deeper way … It allows them to put the customer at the centre of our universe.”

For example, Salesforce brings customer data to the mobile devices that sales associates use to give better service to customers in Aldo stores, and informs call-centre staffers so they can resolve calls 20% faster. That shows love for Aldo’s customers and respect for their time.

“Their expectation is that we know them and their behaviours and their preferences, regardless of where they are,” said Lance Martel, Chief Information Officer. “I think it's not about technology. It's about experiences.”

With predictive intelligence on marketing cloud and on its website, Aldo can recommend a second pair of shoes in a similar style or a coordinating handbag. If you look at a pair of shoes on Aldo’s website, when you walk into a store, Aldo’s app will tell a sales associate what you want so you can try those shoes on faster. Using App Cloud and AppExchange, Aldo’s A-list app manages and tracks interactions with top-tier customers, and showcases select shoes or prereleases, offering special perks to their best customers.

Having the right information helps Aldo associates make recommendations that feel personal and generous, not like generic upselling, Martel said.

Fewer sales emails, 70% more revenue

An average Aldo customer buys a few pairs of shoes per year while the company’s top customers buy around nine pairs every year. At best, that’s still less than one pair a month, so blasting weekly sales emails is clearly overkill.

“I think in general we always sent far too much. And we have reduced it by about 50 percent,” said Erwin Hinteregger, Chief Marketing Officer.

The emails Aldo does send are better connected to individual preferences — and that’s driven a 131% increase in email conversion over the previous year.

“That is key, that we get smarter about the individual customer and [offer them] the right product, the right content that they are really looking for. That is really the Holy Grail, at the end of the day, right? It's really getting down to a 1-to-1 relationship,” Hinteregger said.

Ian Richards, Aldo’s Vice President of CRM and Analytics, said Aldo aims for that 1-to-1 connection across communications platforms.

“We really try to send the customer the right information that might be most relevant to that customer at that particular time. Whether it's an email, push, or SMS, across all of our platforms, it's really about being customer-centric and truly personalised,” said Ian Richards, Vice President of CRM and Analytics.

Upgrading to Marketing Cloud drove $100 million in ROI over four years, by focusing on showing love and respect for Aldo customers, putting them at the centre of Aldo’s world.

“It's very interesting how the retail world has changed,” Frisk said. Back just a few decades, all you needed was “beautiful footwear — the right product, in other words — and great staff that we’re able to service the consumer — you were gold.”

Fast-fashion chains and convenient online retailers transformed the retail landscape, giving customers more choices, which meant Aldo had to change, too.

“For Aldo, that meant that we needed to really think long and hard about how we stayed competitive,” Frisk said. “It wasn't just about collecting data. It was about personalising that data. … And that's what Salesforce has enabled us to do.”


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