For most merchants and retailers, a level of predictability has traditionally been central to growth; past data and models were key to understanding the market, consumers and planning for the future. However, within a matter of weeks COVID-19 effectively tore up playbooks and forced companies to embrace a new reality – one driven almost entirely by e-Commerce.
Last week I had the chance to sit down with Jenna Flateman Posner, VP of Digital at Snipes and Patrick Rogan, Director of E-Commerce Operations at Hugo Boss to understand how they’re part of a digital solution to support sales and deliver a compelling online experience for customers while fending off the competition and potential fraudsters too.
Physical Stores Need a Digital Voice
For Snipes, who partners with brands like Nike, Jordan, Adidas and Puma, COVID-19 has meant finding new ways to manage both store and digital footwear allocations while the doors are closed, effectively engaging traditional in-store customers while also expanding their reach to new digital customers as well. This has allowed Snipes to showcase their agility to move more product at a high velocity, and could mean access to more allocations in the future.
For Hugo Boss, the lack of physical stores has meant re-examining sales forecasts, re-evaluating customer service teams, and reviewing buying patterns as they shift from week-to-week. The company also has to balance encouraging online shopping while also promoting a positive brand experience so that once brick and mortar stores reopen, customers will be more likely to return to their stores creating a true, long-term omnichannel experience.
Jenna noted that, “We know all the data suggests that consumers who shop omnichannel will deliver 300% greater lifetime value, they come back more often and spend more when they do.”
Customer Experience is King
With a 55% increase in online purchases for apparel and 135% increase for shoes in recent weeks, creating a great customer experience is central to growth and retention. Both Jenna and Patrick reinforced the importance of being flexible with customers by extending returns policies, offering targeted coupons/promotions and being extra accommodating with customer service. However, it shouldn’t be a free-for-all and it’s up to merchants to have the systems and partners in place to understand the impact of policy changes in near-real time and to update as necessary to address customer challenges or potential abuse.
Fraud Management Can Support Safe Growth
During a time where businesses are looking to save money and cut costs, streamlining fraud prevention efforts is essential. Both Snipes and Hugo Boss once relied on rules-based systems or teams of manual reviewers to protect their businesses from fraud. This created an inconsistent experience for customers, added friction to the process, and resulted in higher chargeback rates with customers challenging purchases with their banks and credit card companies. As customers of Forter, both companies have been able to fully automate their fraud prevention and grow their business more confidently.
Patrick added, “Rather than managing rules and manual reviews, our operations team has been able to focus on BI reporting and monitoring for promotional or coupon abuse or other types of fraud like making sure there aren’t specific locations where a lot of packages are getting “lost”.”
As Jenna noted, “Making the right fraud management decision gives you peace of mind. I don’t have to think about fraud. We have a real-time dashboard where once a week I’ll pop in and see what our rate looks like, it doesn’t disappoint. In fact, Forter has exposed access to data in the past that’s been buried in our e-comm system, so we were able to learn about some other areas of opportunity as well.”
You can listen to my complete conversation with Jenna and Patrick here.