In today’s competitive retail environment, brand advocacy is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve.
The wealth of choice available to consumers has made them far more likely to switch allegiance for a better price or greater convenience. At the same time, high shopper expectations mean a single bad experience can irreparably damage the customer/retailer relationship.
Add to this the challenge of delivering brand consistency and functionality across multiple channels, and it’s easy to see why customer lifetime value is a highly valuable metric!
However, there are a number of fashion brands that have successfully nurtured shopper loyalty in the omnichannel era. While each has created its own strategy for strengthening customer relationships, there are some principles that are common to all.
Customer experience is the absolute foundation of all their achievements; it’s important to surprise and delight at a time when shoppers are increasingly turning to each other for brand endorsements and recommendations.
Today, a consumer won’t just share a good or bad encounter with their closest friends – they’ll leave online reviews, comment on social media, even create a blog post documenting their views. The rise of this user-generated content (UGC) has placed the voice of the customer at the heart of brand identity.
Forward-thinking fashion brands are utilizing UGC to interact with vocal customers, and integrate their feedback into the shopper journey. At its simplest level, this consists of publishing reviews on their website, however some are using their staunchest advocates as advice points, to answer consumer queries. Others are incorporating technology into the store, such as digital screens displaying real-time social media feedback, to ensure shopper content forms part of the bricks-and-mortar experience.
This brings me on to my next point: the integration of online and offline activity. Across the whole of retail, blending digital and physical touchpoints has been a core challenge to omnichannel success, as we discussed in our recent report – The Omni-Illusion.
Many of the most desired fashion brands are actively bringing digital devices into the physical shopping environment, to bridge that gap between the website and the store.
It’s important to note that the role of retail technology isn’t just to impress customers; fashion brands must use data connectivity to improve the face-to-face experience. While a digital screen showing social media feedback might add wow factor to the store layout, it’s redundant if the sales associate can’t deliver what the shopper wants.
This brings me to my final point: personalization. Nurturing a lifelong relationship means getting to know someone, and the leading fashion brands are making a concerted effort to tailor their experiences in a relevant way to their most valuable customers.
Adapting website layout based on previous interactions; customizing email promotions around the frequency with which customers buy, and what they are buying; integrating loyalty schemes across all channels; using back-end data to make personal recommendations at the shelf edge. These are all relatively straightforward ways that fashion brands can adapt their offering to their customer base, so that each shopper feels valued at an individual level.
And herein lies the key to successful fashion loyalty. Consumers may want to be part of a trend or movement, but ultimately style is about self-expression – so they want brands to appeal to their uniqueness, rather than their sameness.