In the middle of a pandemic where formal attire faded away from shoppers’ chief concerns, and amid the pressures of new ownership after emerging from bankruptcy, Brooks Brothers knew a pivot was paramount to keeping up with rapidly changing consumer norms.
According to Todd Treonze, senior vice president and chief information officer of Brooks Brothers, the men’s wear company made a commitment to do just that on the back end, condensing what was traditionally a 52-week cycle for bringing new product to market to just six months when launching a new men’s athleisure line.
“We’ve been seeing some really great results related to that, everything from hooded zip-up sweatshirts to some more everyday cozy wear—things that just weren’t a part of the brand before, so from a product perspective that was very exciting for us,” Treonze said during the Now + Next digital event hosted by digital payments platform Adyen.
With four items listed as new on the brand’s e-commerce site, the athleisure offering remains limited for the moment, including a half-zip sweatshirt, joggers, drawstring sweatshorts and the zip hoodie Treonze mentioned.
The updated Brooks Brothers, now owned and operated by SPARC, the joint venture of Authentic Brands Group and Simon Property Group that scooped up the American heritage company for $325 million, has to capitalize on the concept of “unified commerce” that is stressed all across retail circles and promotes seamless retail experiences regardless of where a consumer starts and finishing the shopping journey.
“If you’re a multichannel or omnichannel retailer, who has both stores and retail, an order management system with a great payment platform behind it is table stakes now,” Treonze said. “The customer assumes that you have a single view of inventory, you know if they want it and you have it, it shouldn’t matter where that product is. You should be able to get it to them as quickly and as efficiently as possible.”
Beyond expanding Brooks Brothers’ apparel offering, Treonze has had more tricks up his sleeve with the implementation of new technologies to revitalize the 203-year-old men’s wear retailer.
While the company has 170 stores open in the U.S., approximately 50 percent of its sales originate from digital channels, bringing the Brooks Brothers team on the offensive when it comes to investing in technology that can bridge online and off.
The retailer launched a new order management system in October 2020, driving an increase in orders of 30 percent year over year during the holiday season. Upon rolling out the new order management capabilities, Brooks Brothers also implemented Adyen as an online payments partner.
“Offering as many different payment types as a customer wants to use to do business with you is very important,” Treonze said. “It opens up avenues for some what I’ll call ‘non-traditional but emerging payment’ types, especially ‘pay-over-time.’ Those are all things that you get out of the box that you may not have gotten in a more traditional payment platform. The last thing you want to do is worry about somebody having to find a credit card to do checkout.”
And already having invested in the technology prior to the pandemic, Brooks Brothers sought to improve its in-store clienteling capabilities to better engage consumers once stores opened back up, whether it meant associates could either check where items would be in inventory while the shopper was in a store, or proactively message shoppers and drive transactions back to the digital channel.
While the retailer says it offers curbside pickup at select locations, Treonze highlighted the difficulty that the mall-based retailers have in deploying the service, thus preventing them from scaling it across all locations.
“It really depends on location, I think it’s not going to be a fit for absolutely everybody,” said Treonze. “I think logistically there’s going to be some things that have to be figured out there, but overall I think it’s going to become the new normal in terms of how customers want to reach out to retailers and do business.”
For 2021, Brooks Brothers has bigger plans for its e-commerce experience, replatforming its website with Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
“If you don’t take advantage of some of the things that your customers are telling you to take advantage of, and really listen and make the changes, somebody else is going to make that change and get that customer,” Treonze said.