This holiday, the stakes have never been higher.
Like many retailers anticipating a record shipping season, Tommy Hilfiger spread out its Black Friday strategy starting in “mid-October all the way through to the end of December,” according to Shawuan Johnson, the brand’s executive vice president of merchandising, company stores.
“We messaged it that way, but we also see it for the consumer that wants to come in stores, that’s part of a safety measure as well,” Johnson said Wednesday during a CommerceNext webinar. “You’re not going to face those big crowds on that day. So that’s another way that we’re trying to pull it in early so that it’s more spread out. It’s critical knowing just where we are that we just have more time to read the business and make those adjustments.”
Even a lesser-trafficked brick-and-mortar store could still make a meaningful impact on a retailer’s ability to succeed during holidays, said Daren Hull, chief customer officer at handbags and accessories retailer Vera Bradley.
“Keep in mind that this may be one of the few times your customers are getting out,” Hull said. “Talking with my folks in the field, one of the constants is that there are a lot of things that aren’t in our control. But one of the things you can do is make these personal experiences for people. You may be the only person this individual is talking to over the course of the day.”
Johnson referred to Tommy Hilfiger’s communication focus as “three Cs” for clarity, convenience and comfort. The three C communication process is crucial throughout the pandemic, Johnson said, as shoppers are dealing with so much uncertainty in their daily lives.
Retailers must help shoppers easily find the products they’re looking for, whether in store or online.
“We don’t want them sifting through a lot of different products to get the things they want,” Johnson said. “We’re really making a big effort to reduce the noise in the stores, making clear presentation so the consumer can get in and out, while creating statements that count for them.”
For Vera Bradley, the retailer is targeting the “tweener” consumer who is still learning the process of becoming digital savvy in a way to integrate the store and e-commerce experiences. The company is ramping up its in-store appointment selling and online guided video selling for the season, where store associates can communicate with shoppers via Zoom to talk about the collection.
“For the first time, we’ve created digital assets that we can walk people through a guide shopping experience,” Hull said. “We have a strong customer experience that has always done that but we’ve expanded it to cover store regions, so you blend together the traditional clienteling you’ve had with the stores with some of these new tools to create a hybrid of, ‘How do I walk you through placing an online order?’”
During the holiday season, apparel retailers are under plenty of pressure to impress the shopper online—63 percent of site traffic comes from new visitors, said Lucie Buisson, chief product officer at e-commerce analytics software provider ContentSquare.
This data, which came from ContentSquare’s 2020 Holiday Playbook, revealed the urgency these retailers must face as shoppers are looking at even more competitors. While 47 percent of visitors exit after one page, 50 percent of site content goes unseen.
But retailers have more opportunities to engage consumers during the holiday season, Buisson said. In fact, the average click rate per page jumps from 3.2 percent to 4.6 percent during the holiday season, a nearly 50 percent increase in the metric.
Tommy Hilfiger is looking to get more eyeballs on its e-commerce experience by expanding its recent foray into virtual showrooms, making them a bigger part of its holiday offering, according to Johnson. While the PVH-backed Hatch Digital In-Showroom technology traditionally focused on the in-showroom experience to give brands an intuitive way to digitize their physical wholesale appointments, Tommy Hilfiger is working with Obsess to deliver shoppable virtual stores for customers.
“It’s as if the customer can go into a room depending on the wearing occasion, whether they’re dressing up at home or they want to relax with their family,” Johnson said. “So we’re creating these virtual rooms so that the consumer can actually navigate through the shop in the same way that they would navigate in the store. So I think there’s a lot of things that we’re working on, but we’re trying to find that sweet spot where the consumer goes onto our website and they’re feeling like they’re in a store environment.”