Buyers Share Strategies to Connect With Customers

A group of retailers said digital marketing was more important than ever in a discussion Wednesday morning at FN Platform in Las Vegas.

The event, presented by Sterne Agee and analyst Sam Poser, covered changing footwear trends and building customer relationships in the current market. Panelists included Rick Ausick, president of Brown Shoe Co.-owned Famous Footwear; Lisa Gorlicki, footwear buyer at The Tannery in Boston; Gary Weiner, president and owner of Saxon Shoes in Richmond, Va.; and Isack Fadlon, co-owner of Sportie LA.

Ausick said mobile marketing is a growing focus at his firm. Famous Footwear launched a mobile app for its loyalty members late last year, leading to fewer mailings, he said.

“We think that’s our hope for the future [and] another touch point for the customer,” he said.

Saxon Shoes, also a family footwear store, has pulled back on print advertising by about 70 percent, said Weiner. That number could reach 95 percent, he added, as the business focuses on other methods, including TV advertising.

“We see a return on TV [ads] within 24 hours,” Weiner said. “We use national and local spots to drive different people in the store.”

At The Tannery, Gorlicki said she reaches out to customers through other avenues.

“We don’t spend much on advertising. I don’t bug vendors for that because I’d rather work on margins,” she said.

Gorlicki does, however, regularly send out coupons to new homebuyers in the Boston area, after gathering the information for free from the town hall.

Outdoor billboards work well for Sportie LA, according to Fadlon.

“Los Angeles is a driving town, so [those placements have] been very effective,” he said, citing a recent campaign conducted with Crocs.

In addition to advertising programs, the retailers said they also plan to continue to improve their online and in-store experiences for the customer, as positive word of mouth remains one of the strongest ways to build a business.