During his breakout session at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show, Ken Seiff, executive vice president for direct and omni-channel at Brooks Brothers, outlined the tenets of the company’s strategy to create a unique and personalized experience for each customer across all channels.
Brooks Brothers, a nearly 200 year-old American brand, solidifies its position as one of the most resilient by continuously innovating, developing new ways to serve its customers through extraordinary products and legendary service.
“We are not good because we are old,” Brooks Brothers Chairman and CEO Claudio Del Vecchio told Shop.org’s Artemis Berry in an interview. “But rather, we are old because we are good.” While not in attendance at the NRF breakout session, Del Vecchio illustrates the brand’s ability to recognize shifting trends in the retail landscape and meet those changes head on.
The company has a long history of understanding the needs of its customers and has gone to great lengths to meet them:
- During the late 1800s and early 1900s, store locations were relocated to be closer to their customers
- The Gold Rush sparked the concept of ready-made clothing. People needed suits in a hurry as they moved out West to strike it rich. Customers did not have 7-10 days to wait for their suit to be tailored;
- Women became a driving force in the workplace in the 1970s, leading Brooks Brothers to team up with Vogue to create shirts specifically for working women.
To translate this longstanding customer-driven approach into an omni-channel strategy that meets the needs of today’s consumer, Brooks Brothers looked to existing in-store practices and listened to feedback from current customers. The result was a desire to bring the individual attention customers received in the brick-and-mortar store to the digital realm. Seiff noted that technology, by nature, is impersonal and has to be configured in a way that engages the customer. For an effective omni-channel experience to take hold, they would need to bridge that gap.
As Brooks Brothers’ employees can not be present to assist customers through online and mobile channels, the company developed a personalization algorithm, a process to remember, listen and make recommendations for returning online customers, to continually serve the consumer.
The company’s Spring 2013 Suit Yourself online campaign is the latest culmination of its omni-channel approach. The process of purchasing a suit is one that is reliant on the brick-and-mortar store. Sizes differ from designer to designer, or even store to store, the sales associate and the tailor have always been important in finding a suit that fits perfectly. Suit Yourself is an online series designed to educate and empower the customer before they ever step foot in the store.
While the brick-and-mortar store will always be Brooks Brothers’ main platform to engage the customer, the store floor is now a retail experience that extends into online and mobile realms. The result is a one-on-one, customer-focused experience across all retail touchpoints.