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RetailX Stream: D2C experiences roundup

Direct-to-Consumer is one trend we’ve seen flourish during the Covid-19 crisis, as retailers around the world raced to meet changing consumer desires. During our latest RetailX Stream episode, our panel of expert retailers and contributors took to the virtual stage to discuss D2C experiences and how industry giants such as Burberry, Selfridges and Revolution Beauty are creating them…

Read on for a preview of the discussion or browse upcoming episodes here.

Rachel Henwood, Senior Sales Consulting Director, EMEA at Oracle Retail kicked the session off by exploring the idea of experience vs convenience. 

“I think consumers and customers are very demanding – so what we would envisage as an experience, is really about convenience for them. When shoppers go onto a website now they’re not just expecting a transaction, they want to be able to find out more about the product. There has to be information there such as videos that are going to inform them about how the product works, or its heritage or how it’s made.”

Why would you consider Selfridges as an archetype of a flagship store? 

“When you go in it’s quirky, fun – there’s always new stuff there but really you can have an absolutely amazing experience. You can eat and drink there, you have a concierge service to help with personal shopping, you can get your hair done or you can go to the cinema there.” 

Henwood added with glee that the London store can even be hired as a wedding venue – complete with ring shopping and breakfast. 

Eric Fergusson, director of ecommerce at Liberty London spoke to us about creating a memorable instore experience. 

“Simply put, we want to be able to delight our customers and encourage them to discover and buy something which they wouldn’t have bought before or previously considered. If I think in the context of Liberty, the reason is about discovery and curation so it’s about finding and bringing things to our customers which they will intrinsically draw attention and desire to but may not have been aware of. It’s that discovery and delight. 

“Liberty isn’t a marketplace. You don’t find every product of a given brand and that’s very purposeful. We want to be able to provide an edit, a curation, a point of view that customers will find manageable and relevant.”

Martin Francis, global digital GM at FitFlop shared how FitFlop is approaching the customer experience. 

“The moving image has a lot to do and I think we’ve got to be very clear in explaining the key differentiator in our technology compared to some of our competitors in how we make our shoes and how we test our shoes. We’re really the experts in the field and we’ve got to deliver that from a website perspective but it starts from the define the brand piece which we’ve spent a lot of time over the last six months doing. “ 

Francis shares that if FitFlop were ever to look at doing stores they would have new interactive experiences where the customer can really get to know the product.

“I’m really looking forward to delivering that and making sure digital is at the heart of that experience.” 

Sally Heath Minto, digital director at Revolution Beauty provided her thoughts on the role of technology in the context of the customer experience. 

“I think one of the things that we’ve been very conscious about is how do we use the developments in technology to create more cohesion between the two experiences using AR, AI etc. We haven’t tried it thus far because I don’t think the technology is quite there – there’s no point having something gimmicky just to say you’ve done it.

“You’ve got to start with the problem”, she explains. “Concealer and foundations are typically harder to drive conversion on because people struggle to find their shade and so one of the things I’m looking at is virtual try on and shade matching so we can at least help our customers in that process. That for me is what a great digital experience is: what’s the problem? What are you trying to solve? And doing something really bespoke to your business and your customers’ requirements rather than just doing something that just sounds good.” 

Claudio Cavacini, senior solution manager at Global Omnichannel Oracle delved into top tips for creating a personalised experience that doesn’t run the risk of being too “creepy”. 

“When you are a luxury brand you probably have a senior sales associate with a strong experience on the floor and they can reuse the information about the clients very effectively. For example, if they know a client is going to reply to a certain email or clicked on a specific banner you can provide this information to the employee and ensure that they will not be creepy and will use this information without going into detail. 

“The main area for making things better for everyone – a personal touch that we can add to remote conversations with a personal assistant – and of course, AI used in a proper way will make things better.” 

To find out about further innovations in the industry – from Japan’s virtual pop-up Burberry store, to Patagonia’s use of ecological storytelling – you can watch the full webinar here.

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