Up Close is Sourcing Journal’s regular check-in with industry executives to get their take on topics ranging from personal style to their company’s latest moves. In this Q&A, Susan Jeffers, CEO and founder of unified commerce platform XY Retail, discusses the impact of customer centricity and how her company is helping retailers plan precise promotions.
Name: Susan Jeffers
Title: CEO and founder
Company: XY Retail
Which other industry has the best handle on the supply chain? What can apparel learn?
It is difficult to say which industry has the “best” alignment of its supply chain, as different industries have different goals, priorities and challenges. As for the apparel industry, it can learn from other industries that have been successful in aligning their supply chain with their business goals. For example, the automotive industry is known for its highly integrated and efficient supply chain and its eagerness to try new technology—for example, robotics—and processes, which allows it to quickly respond to changes in demand and adapt. The apparel industry can potentially learn from the automotive industry’s approach to supply chain integration and collaboration.
Also, the technology industry, known for its fast-paced and innovation-driven nature, and the healthcare industry, which has complex supply chain management requirements due to the nature of its products and services, have lessons to share. The apparel industry can potentially learn from these industries’ approaches to supply chain management and apply similar strategies to its own supply chain.
How would you describe yourself as a consumer?
Customer service means everything to me, and it is what keeps me coming back for more.
As a consumer, what does it take to win your loyalty?
The companies I am the most loyal to have a 360-degree approach to my customer experience. They’ve successfully woven a customer-centric focus, data-driven approach to personalization, a commitment to high-quality and sustainable product offerings and consistency over time into their culture. They can speak to me individually, as well as offer a superior experience to everyone in the aggregate.
What’s your typical work (or weekend) uniform?
Joggers and a hoodie!
Which fashion era is your favorite?
Who’s your style icon?
What’s the best decision your company has made in the last year?
Building a team that delivered results by focusing on one strategic customer and connecting them directly to the customer’s needs.
How would you describe your corporate culture?
We have taken a customer-centric approach to our corporate culture, where we keep what the customer needs at the core of everything we do. This requires a commitment to innovation, and we encourage our employees to think creatively and to come up with new and innovative solutions to challenges and to always do what is best for the customer. We encourage collaboration and teamwork, with a global team that brings global insights and can tackle global problems. And we value a take-charge attitude in our employees, trusting them to do what’s best for our customers. Overall, these values are integral to our culture and are reflected in the way we work and the way we interact with each other and with our clients.
What can companies learn from Covid-19?
Retailers have assuredly learned about the importance of strong supply chain management and ensuring supply chain resiliency, the value of building in the flexibility to pivot when needed, the importance of building a culture of innovation and the importance of customer service. Also, hopefully they have learned from how much consumers missed that in-person experience during the lockdown phase of the Covid-19 epidemic and how quickly they rushed back to brick-and-mortar stores that there will always be demand for that personalized, one-to-one, in-person shopping experience.
What should be the apparel industry’s top priority now?
Resilience in the face of uncertainty. Macroeconomic headwinds will make supply chain efficiency and building one-to-one relationships with customers the key to keeping your business resilient.
What keeps you up at night?
There are several aspects of running a business that keep us up at night, such as attracting and retaining talent, improving and maintaining customer happiness, and making sure we are innovating fast enough to maintain our competitive advantage in the marketplace. This “innovator’s dilemma” is whether to continue running the business as usual or to choose to expand my vision into unexplored and unstable territories.
What makes you most optimistic?
Finding new ways to grow, including new products or services, new business models, deeper customer relationships, pursuing innovation as a long-term strategy, geographic expansion and a deeper partner ecosystem.
Tell us about your company’s latest product introduction:
XY Retail recently announced the launch of the world’s first end-to-end, business rules-driven promotion engine. Today’s retailer faces an over-complicated and time-consuming process of manually implementing promotions across each singular store—a cycle that takes three to four weeks. XY Promo solves for this by allowing retailers to easily implement targeted, multi-level and multi-rule promotions in minutes, with the additional ability to segment by customer, store, region or product, and more available product attributes as needed. The solution will enable retailers to maintain full control across regions, markets and channels while deploying promotions quickly versus a lead time of multiple weeks.
With XY Promo, XY Retail customers benefit from pre-defined promotion templates and a user-friendly promotions interface, making it easy to consistently implement promotions on any channel and removing user error with automatic discounting that handles multiple promotions, resulting in a seamless end-to-end promotion experience from implementation to customer transaction.