Forter Director of Customer Marketing, David Coates, recently sat down with Janelle Spatz, Director of Digital Operations, PVH as part of the NRF 2021 Conference to discuss how one of the world’s leading apparel companies adapted to the dynamic conditions of 2020 and how they plan to continue to shape their retail experience to meet consumer needs into 2021, and beyond.

The last 9 months have been nothing short of “crazy” for everyone. Janelle commented, “I have worked in e-commerce for 10 years, but COVID conditions were the “mad dash” periods businesses had experienced in the past, multiplied by nearly 100.” The COVID climate served as a catalyst for brands across the globe to reevaluate their approach to business and quickly shift their priorities. Janelle noted that while PVH had a strong digital roadmap for 2020, the pandemic suddenly meant that a number of digital projects that were on the 2-3 year roadmap were moved up while other operational projects were deprioritized.

A focus on business adaptability

PVH splits their focus across retail, wholesale, and online channels. As COVID began, and brick and mortar stores began to close, PVH had to adapt and figure out how to deal with potentially “dead inventory.” This required quick thinking at how to best serve customers. PVH was fortunate to have micro-warehouses which they decided to use as fulfillment centers, as well as using retail store locations (once restrictions were lifted), to ship from. In order to maintain the customer’s experience and retain loyalty, PVH had to reassess and build out their approach to fulfillment and reorganize how their network operated. Amid COVID conditions, the main focus for Janelle and her team was to ensure there was no backlog in inventory or delays to fulfillment that would impede the customer experience. This required agile and ongoing reviews of inventory, customer basket analysis, and overall consumer trends to ensure that processes ran smoothly and that no one distribution center would get overwhelmed by any one challenge.

Learnings from the holiday season

This holiday season required a higher level of preparedness than ever before. Internal collaboration was vital to the success of the business and required cross functional teams to cross the finish line. Janelle said that especially around the holidays her team’s goal was to “do everything in our power to meet the consumer need.” Delays or friction to the customer experience during the holidays especially would cause increased cart abandonment or the risk of losing customer loyalty. As such, the PVH team strategized and put contingency planning into effect to ensure no processing delays would occur. PVH’s goal was to ensure that any delays would not be as a result of inefficiencies from their team.

Changes to consumer behaviors, and how to optimize in 2021

2020 saw an overwhelming shift from brick and mortar customers coming through digital channels instead. COVID was a catalyst for digital transformation – both in consumer buying behaviors as well as in businesses’ strategic operational approaches. New strategies needed to be leveraged to encourage new shoppers to engage with their brands and to retain these new users as lifelong customers. Optimization during 2020 and into 2021 means meeting consumers’ needs across as many channels as possible.

PVH understood that investing in experiences such as:

  • Curbside pickup options
  • Contactless delivery
  • Buy Online Pickup In Store (BOPIS)
  • Additional payment options
  • Deferred payment options

…will be essential components to their business strategy moving forward. Janelle commented that investing more in their “chatbot” for customer engagement and questions was also a vital tool to ensuring better experiences for their shoppers, resulting in a more effective and timely response when dealing with customer support, especially during peak periods.

Janelle noted that, from a digital perspective, her digital team would be focused on a number of key initiatives including:

  • Investing in social commerce and really meeting consumers at their need
  • Reducing expenses by looking at small initiatives or technology that can make a substantial impact on the reduction or allocation of spending and operational overhead
  • Investing in business values to help support solutions and combat problems of the future

Reducing expenses through technology, how Forter has helped create substantial top-line growth

Janelle commented, “prior to my engagement with Forter, I was by no means a fraud expert.” That being said, “I saw vast inefficiencies on PVH’s previous approach to fraud prevention and risk management. With over 250 rules and a team of manual reviewers, operational overhead was high and the business was not operating with the level of efficiency we desired.” Janelle and PVH engaged with Forter – the first AI technology vendor that they brought into the company – and the results spoke for themselves.

“We were blocking good money, and we’re not talking thousands, we’re talking millions!” stated Janelle. “When we started working with Forter our growth skyrocketed and we kept chargebacks down which was a huge win for the business all while keeping effort low and applying resources elsewhere.”

Janelle commented that looking ahead into 2021 and beyond, she recommends for digital teams and businesses across the board should do the following:

Key TakeawaysTo listen to the recording of the session please click here.

4 minute read