Brands are devoting hundreds of hours — and boatloads of money — to reach consumers in meaningful ways both online and in store.
Industry experts at FN Platform said that rich experiences are an important way for brands to stand out from their competitors and to boost consumer loyalty.
But poor service, inconsistent pricing and slow digital speed are the easiest ways to lose business.
“The consumer’s tolerance is very low for slow load times,” Dave Grange, SVP of footwear at Lacoste, said Wednesday during an FN panel in Las Vegas moderated by women’s editor Nikara Johns. “You need to offer exceptional service all the time. The experience for the customer has to be perfect 100 percent of the time.”
To that end, Lacoste has made considerable investments in technology infrastructure, back-end operations and in equipping its in-store sales associates with tablets to help make the sales process smooth.
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The goal for brands, according to Sperry vice president of sales Dan Leonardi, should be to offer product and price consistency across smart phones, desktops, store visits and social media.
“We need to be responsive to the consumer, wherever they shop,” he said. “The consumer is in charge.”
But connecting with consumers can be tricky business.
For one thing, they are getting bombarded with messaging on all their own social media feeds. For another, brands also have to have enough staff in place to immediately address consumers’ questions.
That can be harder for newer, smaller brands, said Meghan Mossler, co-founder of Ross & Snow.
“The biggest challenge [for us] is being responsive to customers on social media [and elsewhere] online with such a small team [as well as] optimizing our website load times,” she said.
To differentiate itself in a crowded market, Mossler said her brand, founded in 2017, is focusing more on targeted messaging through Facebook and through grassroots events such as the Sundance Film Festival and by hosting shoe parties.
While many brands are improving their digital outreach, the panelists agreed that traditional brick-and-mortar is still the best way to show consumers the full range of products.
It’s why direct-to-consumer brands such as Allbirds and others are opening stores, said Leonardi.
“Great customer service never goes out of style,” said Mossler. “If you have a beautiful store but poor customer service, you’re going to lose out.”
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