October 13, 2014
The retail industry has recently undergone a massive transformation when it comes to shopper marketing.
Customers are looking for more targeted and richer engagement experiences from brands – ones that span digital channels and provide opportunities for ongoing interaction, personalization and a white-glove or surprise-and-delight experience.
While luxury shoppers are not searching based on value, they are on the hunt for highbrow experiences that differentiate their favorite brands. Rich engagement spans a variety of offerings for brands to connect with consumers and is capable of taking the in-store, high-end experience to customers’ preferred engagement channels.
One company that has perfected this with a presence solely online is Stitch Fix.
The fashion curator uses style experts and personalized profiles to choose clothing and accessories seemingly designed specifically for the customer, and deliver them at a cadence that the customer chooses.
Removing the belief that a white-glove experience can only be found through in-store customer service, Stitch Fix has provided its customers with a high-end experience that lives online and is driven by data.
Marketing initiatives should always be customized to fit each brand and target audience. However, Stitch Fix provides a compelling framework that can help get luxury brands thinking of customer engagement in a different light.
Here are three things that luxury brands can learn from Stitch Fix.
1. Capture your customers’ style profile
One of the most effective ways for luxury brands to drive rich engagement is to first have a strong understanding of their customers’ preferences.
Stitch Fix users create style profiles so that their assigned stylist gets an accurate read on their clothing and accessory preferences.
From there, subscribers can provide feedback on the clothing and accessories that they received to better refine the kind of items they want to be sent in the future.
Luxury brands with an established bricks-and-mortar footprint can learn from this method to amplify the customer experience of loyal shoppers.
Do not simply present them with the latest bag in the fall 2014 collection. Take the interaction to a higher level by leveraging the knowledge acquired through past purchases and personalized profiles to share a bag in the color palette that they prefer, or in the seasonal color for which they are on the lookout.
For example, when a costumer is buying a handbag at the register, offer to add it to her style profile using an in-store tablet. Provide the customer with the link, and invite her to complete the profile at home under a surprise-and-delight initiative.
2. Engage through social media
Pinterest fills a powerful niche with its laser focus on high-quality, inspirational images, and a powerful network that can dramatically broaden a brand’s reach.
When used correctly, it provides a medium for retailers and brands to get people excited about their offerings.
Stitch Fix encourages users to create a Pinterest board specifically for sharing their style preferences and include the link in their Stitch Fix profile.
From there, stylists comb through favorites and choose styles to send to clients, resulting in a highly curated package.
Not only is Stitch Fix delighting customers with fashion selections, it is helping to ensure that, of the five products that each client receives, few are returned.
Luxury marketers can use Pinterest to capture consumer preferences, taking psychographics to a whole new level.
As consumers craft their Pinterest style boards, create a campaign with a built-in incentive such as "win your Pinlist."
3. Be the in-person expert, even when you are not in-person
What luxury customers love most about their shopping experience is expert advice and one-on-one attention. And while it may seem like a tired process, receiving a personalized note never fails to delight customers.
Stitch Fix takes this a step further by providing a custom letter in each package that includes ideas for how clients can dress up or down the contents of their box, and a note from the stylist about why items were selected and how to wear them.
If the stylist included something out of the ordinary, the note expresses why he or she thinks the article of clothing is a good fit for her. For a brand with an entirely online presence, this is an impactful way to create a lifelong brand-to-consumer relationship.
Luxury brands should be on the lookout for opportunities to communicate exclusive information on a customer’s latest purchase or provide them with ideas for what could pair well with their new shoes or dress.
Adding that little something extra makes customers feel like one in a million and keeps them returning for more special items.
One way to kick-off this conversation with customers is to start a mobile CRM strategy that allows brands to send personalized product suggestions.
Build a list of, say, consumers who have bought from the spring 2015 collection, and send SMS notifications of new products as they are released. This provides the mobile audience exclusive content and increases incentive to opt-in for updates.
THE UNIQUE approach to customer engagement by Stitch Fix is proof that luxury brands can implement digital marketing initiatives while still maintaining the personal, white-glove experience that affluent shoppers have come to anticipate.
Luxury marketing is continuing to evolve. We will see more rich consumer relationships that can be thoughtfully and methodically maintained through digital mediums that rely on data for a highly targeted experience.
Raquel Cadourcy is vice president of business development and strategic accounts at HelloWorld, New York. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.