Personalizing Customer Engagement for Apparel Brands

November 10, 2015

Posted by Branden Jenkins(opens in new tab), GM for Global Retail, NetSuite

Matt Segal, VP of Account Management for Clutch(opens in new tab), a NetSuite SuiteCloud Developer Network (SDN)(opens in new tab) partner, recently wrote a guest feature in Apparel entitled “How Theory and Splendid Glean Customer Insights(opens in new tab)” which highlighted the increasing focus across the fashion and apparel industry on identifying and understanding customers to personalize their brand experiences. As the article highlighted:

“We are using data to build a deeper relationship with our customers,” says Jennifer Parker, vice president of retail operations and CRM for Theory. “We want to be more than just a store they walk by and decide to shop at. We want to make them feel a connection to the company through the clothes we make and the experience we create. We want to say thank you to everyone no matter how often they shop through personalized surprises.”

We sat down with Matt to get a deeper view into how consumer management technology and customer intelligence are evolving fashion and apparel brands by delivering insight and personalization at unprecedented levels.

Q: Matt, working with a spectrum of fashion brands from Theory and Splendid, featured in your article, to Lucy and Dooney & Bourke, what customer engagement trends are you seeing across the fashion industry?

MS: It sounds simple, but fashion brands(opens in new tab) are realizing, like many other industries, that identifying and understanding your customer is fundamental to success in today’s environment. Consumers are savvy and informed with real-time access to shopping engines, product reviews and price comparisons. Brands have to get equally sophisticated in leveraging their cross-channel data to deliver their customers personalized engagements and exceptional experiences. The path to this is centralizing and synthesizing their data across in-store point-of-sale systems, ecommerce platforms(opens in new tab), mobile applications and social networks and using that intelligence to provide relevant, personalized interactions. The brands that embracing this technology are gaining powerful competitive advantages focused on building trust, creating affinity, earning loyalty and developing evangelism.

Q: What is the biggest challenge these types face with this technology transition?

MS: For many of them, it’s a dramatic shift in mindset. There’s an initial apprehension that technology will remove the personal interaction, when in reality, these solutions augment and enhance those in-store and digital engagements. Consumers largely expect brands to be sophisticated in their engagements; in fact in a recent Marketo studyover 78 percent of those surveyed said they would only engage with a brand’s offer if it was related to how they previously interacted with the brand. Your customers are expecting personalization, so the brands delivering it are finding dramatic success.

Q: In the article you state, “the concept of loyalty itself has largely been relegated to that of a transaction, the idea of “buy four and the fifth is free.” How do brands avoid this common mindset?

MS: I talk about the fundamental loyalty drivers of relevance, predictability, value, commitment and trust. These are critical to driving genuine, long-term customer loyalty. But beyond this, brands need to aligntheir ‘rewards’ with their organizational goals and customer preferences. While many brands state they want to avoid being viewed as a discount brand, they counter this by putting discounts and sales at the heart of their customer engagements. Again, start by understanding what the customer wants and needs and construct a program that aligns with your goals – this can focus on exclusive brand experiences, product previews, in-store events, or any of an array of benefits. We sit down with brands and identify the available currencies (again not necessarily cash-based) that align with and motivate the customer. It’s a balance between strategy and technology.

Learn more – On-Demand Webinar

Listen in on this on-demand webinar, “Is your customer’s journey a happy one(opens in new tab)," which outlines the five strategic steps fashion brands can take to resolve technology obstacles that inhibit innovation and threaten desirable customer experiences. You will learn about the top challenges retailers face in delivering a true omnichannel experience and how to overcome those inhibitors by participating in the webinar led by Matthew Rhodus, industry solutions executive, retail. Click to listen here: in new tab).

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