Tuesday 2, August 2016

By Mignon Buckingham, Managing Director, ICLP
With Amazon named in the top 10 of BrandZ’s rankings of the most valuable brands in the world for the first time we’re seeing yet another indication that the commerce giant continues to go from strength to strength. Evolving from its beginnings as an online bookshop, the brand has proved itself unstoppable, no matter what sector it expands into. From entertainment services via Amazon Prime to the newly-launched Amazon Fresh grocery offering, much of what it touches turns to success.
At the heart of this success lies the customer centric approach that has earnt it a massive following the world over and driven impressive revenue growth. For many, Amazon has become synonymous with what it is to offer a personalised, targeted and reliable service. As a result of consistently putting their customers first and making them feel understood and valued, the brand can boast remarkable customer loyalty – and this has allowed them to expand into new sectors seamlessly.
As its grocery offering expands, thoughts naturally turn to what comes next for Amazon. With the launch of a daily fashion show Style Code Live, the brand is making no secret that its sights are set on the clothing retail sector. In fact, whilst plans for Amazon Fashion is still in early stages, there are already predictions that it won’t be long before it is rivalling the likes of Macy’s. Added to this, recent reports stating that spending in the luxury fashion sector is down and the likes of Burberry is recording a drop in earnings, suggests it’s a sector in need of a shake-up. Will Amazon see this as their window of opportunity to open up yet another new revenue stream?
For clothing retailers, now is the time to take action to build richer emotional connections with their customers or risk losing them. Amazon’s success has been built on recognising what its customers’ want, which has inspired loyalty and made it untouchable. So what lessons can clothing retailers take from the online giant to drive loyalty before it’s too late?
Show customers they are understood
Amazon is renowned for its hyper-personalised approach. Whether this is through making relevant recommendations based on their browsing and purchasing behaviour, recalling products they have purchased in the past or communicating with them by name – each tactic serves to build an emotional connection with the customer, which is likely to keep them engaged for longer, opening up more opportunities to drive repeat purchase and loyalty.
The brand makes effective use of the customer data now available – clothing retailers must follow suit if they too want to prove to their customers that they understand them. There is no excuse – if a customer is handing over their data, whether it’s in store or online, they expect it to be used to enhance their experience with that brand. The days of serving up irrelevant offers is over…
Surprise and delight
Finding ways to reward customers for their loyalty in an interesting and exciting way is going to help drive further devotion to the brand. It’s no longer about just offering discounts. The opportunities to surprise and delight customers with experiences and rewards they would not expect are now extensive – and drive a far greater value exchange. In such a competitive space, fashion retailers that fail to do this will lose out to others who are using data to drive deeper relationships.
Innovate to excite
With spending decreasing in the luxury fashion sector, the challenge for brands is identifying ways to encourage customers back. Amazon has become known for innovation and continues to launch new services that keep customers interested and engaged. Whilst the clothing sector has been slower to adopt technology, it’s now critical if brands are going to bring together the on and offline worlds successfully to enhance overall customer experience. Arming staff with iPads is one way to incorporate technology in-store and use it to gain a better understanding of customers. Whether they are used to help customers search for products that are out of stock, capture their details and interests for the next time they are shopping with the retailer or to encourage sign up to a loyalty programme, each instance creates an opportunity to learn more about the customer, helping to drive a more meaningful relationship in the future.
Make your customer’s life easier
Consumers today are looking for convenience and ways to make their life simpler. According to a global report recently undertaken into mass affluent consumers by the Collinson Group, 69% of those surveyed said they are loyal to brands that are easy to do business with. Amazon identified this early on and created an offering that met this need, which has paved the way for its success ever since. For clothing retailers looking to drive devotion to their brand, understanding how to make their customer’s lives easier will be crucial. Click and collect services, flexible and fast delivery options, simple return processes and easy payment options are all ways to make the shopping experience simpler and will mean customers are more likely to shop with the brand again.
Amazon has proved the value in putting the customer at the heart of its business. Its customer-centric approach has earned it loyal followers the world over. No matter what sector it enters, customers are following because of the reliable and high quality experience they will receive. With Amazon’s eyes now on the clothing retail sector, fashion brands must look at how they can adopt similar approaches to help build devoted relationships with their customers before Amazon does it for them.