Remarkable mentioned at IMRG Fashion Connect Conference

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In this blog post we have tried to capture some of the key topics discussed during a fascinating and informative panel session featuring experienced notable industry specialists:

Matt Henton – ‘Head of eCommerce’ at Moss Bros,
Rob Silsbury – ‘eCommerce & Marketing Director’ of Dune London,
Andy Mulcahy – ‘Strategy and Insight Director’ of IMRG

In response to a question about technology fundamentals Matt Henton responded by saying:

“We’re very lucky, we work with a company called ‘Remarkable’, a fantastic eCommerce platform and a super adaptable bunch of guys”.

And whilst we were delighted with this unexpected endorsement, we also hope that our summary below will help those not present to take some benefit from the panel session.

The main topics discussed were as follows:

• eCommerce experience
• Developments in AI in the retail world
• Focussing on the basics, don’t chase rainbows
• The importance of a joined-up experience (whatever the term)
• Worry about the experience not the channel

Matt Henton and Rob Silsbury taking part in a Q & A during the IMRG 2020 event.

eCommerce Experience 

In relation to the eCommerce experience for customers, Rob gave an insight of his own experience:

“Everybody used to talk about whether someone shops on a mobile device or a desktop or whether they’re store shoppers or digital shoppers, I think it’s more common for people to do all those things. So, our customers are technically savvy, we find between 60 and 70 percent of people who go in to stores to buy whatever they’ve researched online, so the website has a much more intrinsic value than just coming off of our online analytics”.

Additionally, he also gave an insight into how Dune London allows the customer to interact with them in a variety of ways, which he described as ‘touch points’, whilst also explaining the importance of brand consistency and ensuring that the customer experience is as simple and enjoyable as possible. This therefore highlights the fact that customers engage with retailers in a variety of mediums and regardless of which these are, should be optimised to ensure quality customer service to deter them from shopping elsewhere.

The importance of a joined-up experience

Following on from the point of the customer’s eCommerce experience, Matt Henton explains the importance of adopting more than one type of retail experience by using Moss Bros’ perspective as an example:

“Yeah, we try to take the old school tailoring experience that people, maybe, were used to in the past or maybe didn’t really exist in its, sort of, point of view of walking into a tailor who recognises you and knows when you last wore, what you last wore and what size you are and so on. We really try and replicate that across our digital channels as well and recognise that some people are going to interact with stores and not buy there, some people are going to interact with our websites and not buy there, their going to buy in store and it doesn’t really matter, it’s about delivering a great service across whatever channel and understanding what the customers intent is and making it as easy as possible for them to interact with the brand in that way”.

The key point to take away from this is that a customer may choose to interact with a retailer both in store and via digital mediums such as their website. It is therefore irrelevant where the product is purchased as the transaction will go ahead regardless. Having a ‘joined-up’ experience such as Moss Bros’ allows more option for a customer to engage with their products and therefore make a purchase.

AI in the retail world 

On the topic of AI, both Matt and Rob essentially explained how AI should be used where appropriate. Matt said the following:

“You’ve got to understand what it is really that people do, people want and currently the most productive thing we ever do is an update where we get 1-6 people through the day to come in and set them tasks and watch them and track their eye movement and do all that, sort of, CRO type stuff that probably gives us more of an understanding to then go and use those tools that we’ve got at our disposal and actually make a real difference than throwing more tech or throwing more AI at decision making across the site. I think a lot of the decision making has just got to come from us, understanding who our customers are, what different segments can we put them in, so that we can understand them and respond to them better”.

Rob also went to say:

“When people ask me ‘what do you think of AI?’ Well, we’re doing nothing with AI, I might be doing something with retention, where AI will play a part in that journey, so, you know, customer attention is important to everybody, building a lifecycle programme that talks to people relevantly in a way which is where they are in their journey with you as a brand is super important making sure you’ve got dynamic content elements within that lifecycle programme that may well be powered by an AI engine to make it relevant, happy days, but what am I doing with AI? Well, I’m not trying to find a place in my business for AI to sit, I’m trying to find a problem where AI can help me solve it.”

As both men explain, no company should be over-reliant on AI and should only use it when it is of benefit to a respective company. Just because AI is available, it does not necessarily mean that there are not alternative avenues to use.

Worry about the experience not the channel 

Rob Silsbury made a strong emphasis on the customer experience rather than focussing on certain channels such as ‘acquisition’:

“Yeah, so again, from our point of view the customer experience is hugely important actually in this retail climate where acquiring customers is becoming more expensive, certainly to us as a business last year, our acquisition rates were basically flat but where we won was that we were thirty something percent up in terms of customers coming back a second time, so it was like plugging a leaky bucket, whereas now we can perhaps pour more water into the top but it doesn’t have to be super difficult to understand, what is important is that when a customer’s bought from you and you’ve essentially got their money is staying in touch in a relevant way, it’s not over crowding them, it’s talking to them in relevant messages and it’s looking at physical things like your unboxing experience which is another thing than everybody overlooks and we’re as guilty as anybody else with that, you know, ‘how’s your packaging working?’, when was the last time you actually watched somebody who had just ordered from your website, receive something from the guy who delivers it at the door, actually unwrap it and unbox it, how is it making them feel? How does their face change as they lift the lid? Is your product actually delivering on all these things that you’re trying so hard to achieve within the business, so everybody’s working so hard and they’ve elevated their brand and talking about these things, but if your experience in the end is letting you down, then your falling at the last hurdle.”

Although Dune London may have gone through a period where their ‘acquisition rates’ were lower than desired, it didn’t really matter as they had a high volume of returning customers. From Rob’s perspective, this was largely due to the customer experience of shopping with Dune London. The lesson to learn here is that if you can’t get the customer experience right, you won’t have a foundation to build on.

Focussing on the basics 

Rob mentioned a great example of an organisation chasing technology rainbows instead of focussing on the issue at hand: “talking to someone a while ago and they were talking about how they were super proud that their social channels had married into their business so well that they could take a tweet from someone who was at the back of the queue in a store complaining about how long the queue in the store was. When someone in the store got that tweet and went to speak to the person at the back of the queue, she fixed the queue. [Laughter] We just don’t get blinded by lights and, you know, this beautiful basics concept means just remembering what a good business and what a good product is and not chasing rainbows which so often just leads you to just waste your time when there are things so glaringly obvious that you should be focussed on instead”. The moral here is that the problem was the queue, had there been no queue there wouldn’t have been a dissatisfied tweet!

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